Figure 14.4 Volvo’s Epic Split

Big-ass spots are cool. They take forever to produce and you’ll likely be out of town on location or on a set for weeks. But when they finally air? Oh, man. As of this writing, one of the most awarded big spots is one for Volvo created, again, by Forsman & Bodenfors. Obviously, you need to go see this video, but work this good merits description here.

The camera opens on a head shot of martial-arts movie star Jean-Claude Van Damme. It’s quiet. The camera pulls back and we see he’s perched precariously on the side mirrors of two moving Volvo trucks, one foot on the mirror of one truck, one on the other. His arms are crossed. He’s calm. He stares at the camera, we hear his voice.

Van Damme’s VO (as internal thoughts): I’ve had my ups and downs. My fair share of bumpy roads and heavy winds. That’s what made me what I am today. Now I stand here before you. What you see is a body crafted to perfection. A pair of legs engineered to defy the laws of physics. And a mindset to master the most epic of splits.

The camera pulls wide, the ethereal track “Only Time” by Enya begins, and the two trucks slowly pull apart from each other. Van Damme maintains his balance on the trucks and ultimately ends up doing, as promised, the most epic of splits. The super comes up quietly.

Super: This test was set up to demonstrate the stability and precision of Volvo Dynamic Steering.

There were no special effects, just one monstrously cool take. The commercial went on to win every single award on the planet.

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Luke Sullivan

Author, speaker, and ad veteran available to recharge, reinvigorate, and refocus marketing, advertising, and branding firms.

I give a hugely energetic series of presentations on innovation, creativity, branding, and marketing. I spent 32 years in the trenches of advertising (at agencies like Martin, GSD&M, and Fallon) and I’ve put everything I learned into my book, Hey Whipple, Squeeze This. But for me nothing beats taking the message out and speaking to living breathing audiences at clients, agencies, and conferences. You can book me on the button below.

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