Volvo's tag line of "A car you can believe in" was rendered useless by the truck debacle. Research by Messner showed that consumers blamed the previous agency. Therefore, Volvo's core brand equity of safety remained intact.
At the same time, many manufacturers were allotting big ad dollars to jump on the safety bandwagon as it related to families. It was decided that Volvo needed to "reclaim and own" its safety message, but it must be crafted in a unique manner.
Berger and Schmetterer and their team set out to shape a look that included a tag line, visuals, music and the voice to tie it all together. The tag line of "Drive Safely" was presented as a comment that one person said to a loved one as that person walked out the door.
The finishing touch to Volvo's advertising direction would be the voice of actor Donald Sutherland because of his authoritative yet soothing tone.
The goal was to sell an idea that was beyond the car line itself. It was about living, life and families. "Drive Safely" would be the agency's first step in reclaiming Volvo's pre-eminence in safety and set the groundwork for the next step, which was a new-product initiative.
Volvo moved toward front-wheel-drive cars starting with the 850 line, launched in late 1992. It was augmented three years later by a halo car, the 850 T-5R.
In 1997, Volvo Cars recognized that it needed to consolidate its accounts worldwide because it had 104 ad agencies in 86 countries, plus others on special projects.
That year, Euro RSCG received the assignment for the first Volvo global launch, which was for the C70.
This product would signal the direction for the automaker, and the face of Volvo evolved as the "Drive Safely" initiative became the "For life" global tag line in 1999.
At the same time, the "Revolvolution" strategy began, signaling more aspirational vehicles that were arriving in the form of the S60, V70, S80 and the XC90.