In 2016, Volvo developed its XC90 model. To the non-car enthusiast, that might not mean much. But actually, it was quite a bold move. The new vehicle was set to compete with luxury brands from the likes of Mercedes, BMW and Audi.
What’s more, Volvo’s US sales had been dwindling since 2014. It desperately needed some sort of comeback.
Quite a challenge, you might think.
Not only did Volvo have to improve their sales, but they also had to communicate how their brand had transformed into luxury automaker.
But Volvo had a plan. More to the point, they had a PR campaign that they were confident in. They had a strategy that had more than a hint of experiential marketing about it.
For Volvo’s PR campaign to work, they needed people to experience the luxury element of the XC90. Their campaign included an influencer trip to Sweden, a live-crash demo media event, customized test drives, autoshows and a sustained brand presence in a variety of car mediums.
But what lessons can we learn from Volvo’s approach to PR?
The key lesson is that they had a new core message to communicate.
For Volvo, the big aim was that no one would be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020. Again, quite a lofty target, but Volvo’s PR campaign was focused around the features of the XC90 that would help them achieve this worthwhile goal.
Volvo’s PR campaign achieved great results. Volvo secured in excess of 1,500 articles in the industry press and the car won multiple awards that may not have happened had car journalists not been aware of the USPs of the car.
But press articles are one thing… what about sales?
Because, after all, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? PR campaigns, experiential marketing strategies…. they’re all the same. Exposure is great, but at the end of the day, any form of marketing campaign has to yield some sort of ROI for the business.
Well, by the end of 2015, Volvo had sold 12,665 units, which amounted to 18% of total US sales. In 2016, sales were up 412% compared to the previous year.
Perhaps the clearest indication of how successful Volvo’s PR campaign is this stat:
In 2016, 41% of all Volvo’s sold were XC90s.
Therefore, if you want a PR campaign to be successful, have a core belief driving both the strategy and your brand.