Volvo Cars of North America Inc. is preparing its first advertising campaign aimed at black consumers.
The estimated $6 million print, radio and in-school educational push will promote seat belt use by children under age 14. Research has shown that car crashes are the leading cause of death among black children, who are half as likely to use seat belts as other youngsters, said Mark LaNeve, vice president of marketing at Volvo.
The advertising buy is in targeted magazines and radio stations, including minority-owned media. The campaign includes posters for inner-city elementary schools, as well as ads on black-targeted Web sites.
Volvo's agency, Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG in New York, is handling the program. One print ad shows a black child looking out from a shattered car window. The headline and copy recap the high risk of death among youth in the community and the importance of seat belt use. The tag line is 'Volvo for life.'
The campaign is expected to break late this month or in early March. It will run through year end.
Volvo insisted that the move is not in reaction to bad publicity last year that the car marketer shunned minority media. Bob Austin, director of marketing communications, said that, as a niche marketer, Volvo had always bought media that reached its target of educated, affluent, family-oriented consumers.
'We look at race and religious background, and we discovered these people have more in common versus differences,' he said. Before now, Volvo's media buy reached more than 12 percent of its minority targets.
Volvo spent $40 million in measured media during the first nine months of 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
In January 1999, the Federal Communications Commission named Volvo's New York regional dealer ad group and BMW of North America Inc. in a report on minority media. The report cited the two as shunning minority media outlets despite research that showed those outlets reached the marketers' target audiences.
Last April, LaNeve formed a minority diversity business council, made up of black and Hispanic business and community leaders. LaNeve meets with the panel at its quarterly meetings. He said the group has given Volvo valuable advice on the upcoming ad campaign as well as multicultural community relations.