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Top of the Funnel Video Content – Branded Entertainment

By December 1, 2015Home Page, Video production
volvo campaign

In August 2015, Demand Metric published a video marketing benchmark study to understand how video performs, what is most commonly measured, and how viewing data works its way into the sales funnel.
The study also looked at the most popular types of video content brands are producing. More than half of organisations participating are utilising explainer and product feature videos as part of their video content efforts.
Popular styles of videos
In this blog series we look at how different brands have produced top level/ branded video content that feature the products their promoting. ‘Volvo Trucks Live Test Series’ is one of the most imaginative, and successful, examples of B2B marketing we’ve ever seen. While many of us will remember ‘The Epic Split feat. Van Damme’ which received 8 X as many views as the second most popular video in the series, we need to understand the overall campaign objectives to understand the strategic purpose within the sales funnel.
Case Study: Volvo Trucks Live Test Series
Volvo wanted to take advantage of the opportunities offered by social media. A viral campaign was a bold move, commercial truck brands are rather traditional in their approach to marketing. “We understood that there are more people interested in trucks than just men in grey business suits. People around them are also big influencers: drivers, families, friends and spouses. Everyone has a say. That is why we planned a viral marketing strategy,” says Anders Vilhelmsson, Public Relations Manager at Volvo Trucks. The videos show various technical features within their trucks being tested in an entertaining way.

Each of five new trucks had something spectacular about it. But great engineering isn’t very interesting for most people. Forsman & Bodenfors, the Swedish agency who produced the campaign initially declined the offer several times, as they didn’t consider B2B marketing to be their forte. However, in the end, Forsman & Bodenfors agreed to take on the challenge.
The first video, released in 2012 featured a tightrope walker (demonstrating the stability of the Volvo FH) walking across a rope tied between two speeding trucks before the trucks went their separate ways through a two-lane tunnel.
Other videos featured a hamster running in a specially designed treadmill attached to the steering wheel, who managed to steer a truck in a quarry. Soon after, Volvo posted a video of its smallest truck manoeuvring through the labyrinths of a city in Spain. The catch – the truck was chased by furious bulls.
“Awareness is what we wanted with the viral. It wasn’t the number of views that was our ultimate goal, but the actual engagement and fan base. The number of views on YouTube is only the enabler of that,” Cilla Pegelow, Account Director at Forsman & Bodenfors, on the millions of views on YouTube.
The series expresses the values of the brand: pushing the limit, precision, expertise.
The number of views so far (Dec, 2015):

The Ballerina Stunt – 10,3500,722 views
The Hook – 3,353,256 views
The Technician – 1,275,870 views
The Hamster Stunt – 6,697,232 views
The Chase – 2,351,806 views
The Casino – 3,333,002
The Epic Split feat. Van Damme – 81,491,398 views
The series produced a huge ROI for Volvo Trucks. The creators claim that the production wasn’t particularly expensive compared to a typical media budget for an automotive launch. It’s estimated the whole campaign achieved 128 million euros worth of earned media. The company made a relatively small investment which resulted in a massive return. ‘The Epic Split’ has become one of the most successful automotive launch films ever made.
Having received over 100 million views on YouTube and nearly 10 million shares, the campaign was considered a huge success. It wasn’t just the views, there were over 20,000 reports about the series in the media worldwide.
“If you look into it more – our sales people have used the material as a conversation starter. Sometimes, the first thing the customers bring up is ‘The Epic Split’ for example. We have also been looking at the people buying trucks of different brands. When asked if they believe that the films have in any way improved the chances of them choosing a Volvo – almost half of them say yes,” says Anders.
The campaign was very successful in raising awareness, increasing traffic to their social media channels and website.
The aim of content of this nature is to share your values and your mission with your target audience, and what you stand for as a brand.
With impressive, never seem before visuals, you can create a wow factor in ways that would be impossible for any other medium.
We all want to spend time with people we like. We all want to buy from companies whose values align with our own.
When first catching the attention of your target audience, you’re more likely to forge that initial relationship by focusing less on your products and services and more on your core values.
Some, but not all of the videos end with a call to action – visit for more information. Volvo seem to have missed an opportunity here as there is no direct link from the YouTube video to the page on the Volvo site.
They brought it in a very engaging way and also filmed it epically. It is basically a product demonstration in its most extreme form. B2B video marketing is always a bit of a challenge. Business decision makers will come across the viral on their social channels as they’re consumers of media like everyone else on their social channels. From that perspective that’s a good strategy.
The viral videos worked well on multiple levels. Relevance is very important for Volvo. But it also had to be spectacular enough to reach the broader mass. If you take ‘The Epic Split’ as an example and you’re not within the target group, you just see Jean-Claude Van Damme doing the splits, and this is impressive enough for it to have been Volvos most shared ever video. If you are in the target group and you see two truck drivers driving skillfully backwards as never seen before and only then Jean-Claude Van Damme doing the splits.
This is how the viral works.
According to Anders Vilhelmsson, Public Relations Manager at Volvo Trucks: “We agreed that there is no one universal recipe for creating a successful viral. You need to take different steps to maximise the chances of your film going viral. One important step is to make sure that the content is relevant to your target group. We wanted to showcase the innovations in the trucks and make them interesting to people who are not generally that interested in trucks. You need to embrace the new media landscape. When you watch the film on YouTube, you watch it by free choice. It’s not like sitting in front of the TV and watching a 30 second ad. You need to make sure that it’s engaging and interesting enough from the very start.
Cilla Pegelow, Account Director at Volvo’s creative agency Forsman & Bodenfors, added; “To be able to create something like this you need to integrate everything: PR, online, social media etc. They all need to work very well together.”
The Live Test series is proof that B2B absolutely doesn’t need to be boring. Use the most creative directors for untraditional entertaining films! It helps if the media are drawn to it and can write about it. A viral has to be spectacular enough for TV to cover it.
“Present something that people want to watch. Remove unnecessary obstacles for the creatives so they can come up with the best ideas and work together with the engineers. In our case, we even used our engineers in the films,” says Volvo’s PR Manager, Anders Vilhelmsson.

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