Volvo shifts marketing message and dollars

Nicolosi: "We had an ad that Volvo is not for everyone. We like to say that Volvo is for everyone."
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NEW ORLEANS -- Volvo Cars of North America will scale back its TV advertising this year and has yanked the commercials that poke fun at the Germans.

Volvo will spend up to 50 percent more on marketing in 2014 than it did last year and will shift more of that money to digital, said Bodil Eriksson, who was appointed to the new post of executive vice president for marketing, effective Jan. 15.

Last year, Volvo focused its dollars on digital campaigns and commercials that mocked the owners of German vehicles and had the tag line: "Volvos aren't for everyone, and we kind of like it that way."

Tassos Panas, who headed marketing and product planning in the United States and spearheaded that campaign, left at the end of last year for personal reasons.

Volvo has since appointed a new advertising agency, Grey London, which will start work on March 1. "We are just now recruiting for that team," Eriksson said Saturday.

Dealers have been urging that Volvo marketing return to emphasizing the brand's safety, environmental friendliness, functionality and "simple Scandinavian design," said Chip Gengras, chairman of the Volvo Retail Advisory Board and owner of two Connecticut Volvo stores.

Eriksson said it's too early to lay out Volvo's new U.S. marketing strategy. But she said: "We have the strength to be an authentic brand. We have a culture and values that are very strong. We do not need to look at other brands or compare ourselves to other brands."

Tony Nicolosi, CEO of Volvo Cars of North America, said the shift away from TV is tied to the changing habits of buyers who more frequently go to the digital world for information.

"We had an ad that Volvo is not for everyone. We like to say that Volvo is for everyone."

Volvo spent $40.2 million on U.S. domestic measured media through June 30 compared with $50.4 million during all of 2012, according to Kantar Media.

You can reach Diana T. Kurylko at dkurylko@crain.com. -- Follow Diana on Twitter


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