Did One Of The Industry’s Best Viral Videos Increase Sales?

Some of the most compelling brand-produced videos over the last year-and-a-half came from, perhaps, an unlikely advertiser: Volvo Trucks.

Jean-Claude Van Damme’s “Epic Split” has been viewed more than 80 million times and has won some of the industry’s most prized awards. The original video, “Ballerina Stunt” was equally as unbelievable.

What makes these videos work is the insight about Volvo Truck buyers: most of the time the people buying these trucks are not the people driving the trucks. So the buyers seek advice from a range of people: drivers, colleagues, customers and beyond. In this sense, going wider in outreach is good because the audience is deceivingly big. But with no media budget, it becomes a big challenge.

Forsman & Bodenfors is the agency for Volvo Trucks. Here’s how they spoke of the media and creative challenges:

“Sometimes a small media budget is the worst thing you can imagine, but sometimes it helps to open new doors. The overall lesson learned in this case would be the opportunity that the democratized media landscape brings. Firstly, that it is possible to get a global reach without a massive media budget. Secondly, is that you can do it with such high efficiency.

It worked. All in, the videos helped increase Volvo Truck sales by 24% making 2014 their best year ever.

But while it didn’t have media behind it, there was notable PR.

Which isn’t free.

Media has since published 20,000 editorials globally and it’s worth noting the extensive PR effort that was used. From the agency once again:

“The PR strategy initially used the viral interest being shown for the films as leverage. A large amount of press material (press releases, photos, behind the scenes films, technical information, animations, illustrations etc.) was sent to a large number of bloggers, publishers and news channels. For each new film, the message was adapted to suit the segment and theme of the different media channels, so that the most relevant angle was used.”

And that’s how it worked. In addition to sales increases, recall of this communication was 81% among Volvo truck customers and 56% among non-customers.

Furthermore, 61% of non-customers are now aware of the new trucks and an average of 30% of the target group took some kind of action after seeing the campaigns.

Viral videos for brands are rarely entirely “viral”. There’s something behind the scenes, albeit perhaps small, that’s hard at work, alerting some interest.

*all result metrics reported via WARC.