LAS VEGAS: Volvo Car USA, the automaker, believes that a “non-linear” approach to storytelling can effectively help it to engage members of its target audience.

Bob Jacobs, Head/Marketing, Communications and Product Strategy at Volvo Car USA, discussed this subject at the Variety Entertainment Summit held at CES 2018 in Las Vegas.

“For the last three years, we’ve taken an all-in approach to brand storytelling, and our entire campaign has basically been a non-linear story,” he said. (For more details, read WARC’s in-depth report: Non-linear stories drive brand-building at Volvo USA.)

This strategy was on show in “Embrace the Future”, a campaign based around “exploring the unknown”, “The Wedding”, focusing on a family during a daughter’s wedding day, and “Song of the Open Road”, where a writer battles mental block.

Volvo and Grey, its agency, teased these longer-form stories with a flight of television spots that outlined fragments of the story but eschewed the traditional narrative formula.

In each case, the commercials aired in a non-linear fashion, leaving viewers to make their own interpretations of what the true meaning of the message was, as well as seeking out further information online.

“We tell the story in little bits on TV. But there is a red thread, if you will, or a theme that runs through everything that we do,” Jacobs said.

“And what we find is that appeals very highly to our target … We give them little bits of the story, and they explore, and try to find the whole story.”

The brand’s target consumer is, in fact, a relatively unusual one for the automotive sector, which historically has premised its appeals to mass-market male consumers.

“There is this stereotype out there of a college professor with patches on his sleeves driving a Volvo,” Jacobs said. “We’re trying to move ourselves away from that stereotype, but there is a grain of truth to that.”

In fact, he allowed, “Our target audience is highly intellectual, and skews much more intellectual than any of the other [main auto] brands, and so we have found that this approach appealed very much to our target audience.”

Sourced from WARC