Volvo, McDonald’s Set Sail To Promote Pirates

As upwardly mobile companies work harder to reach further into the mass-affluent marketspace, it’s instructive to watch others evolve through partnerships, alliances, and promotions. For example, Volvo Cars is hoping to create a lot of traffic into their dealer locations this summer with a promotion tied to Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean. Visitors to Volvo dealerships can find a "treasure chest" with game pieces that can then be used to enter a sweepstakes at a dedicated website. Participants can win a trip to a secret tropical location, Kodak cameras, or music downloads (what, no car?). Volvo and their agency will be using radio to promote the sweepstakes, advertising in drivetime on the top stations in top markets.

This is mostly a brand awareness effort. According to Linda Gangeri, Manager, National Advertising Volvo of North America, "Our goal is to drive traffic to our dealer locations during the summer months in a family-friendly, fun way. The association with the Pirates title has generated tremendous awareness for our brand…" And, Volvo could use some help. Sales are off close to 20% over the last couple years.

So, traffic into the stores is good, right? Traffic = awareness, right? But, what about guys like this?:

"It didn’t take long before we had a Volvo Dealer offering to send some maps out. (I warned them they’ll be getting more requests). The Volvo Dealer was so nice to also send us a picture of the map for those who wanted to have a look at it…"

Why would Volvo, an upscale, affluent brand, go after what would appear to be a mid-to-down market audience? Doesn’t that actually detract from the  Volvo brand? It seems like an odd partnership. But it also kind of makes sense, Gangeri says,  "we looked at it from a branding standpoint and felt that it was really right. We’re a family brand and felt we would get some exposure beyond our usual places. Really, name a family that hasn’t been to McDonald’s."

Volvo will get the reach they want and need. Disney gets the extra promotional boost from the tie-in. The real winner seems to be McDonalds. Not only does the success of the film drive traffic to the restaurants, but the Volvo brand’s "halo" boosts the golden arches. McDonalds kind of moves upscale in association with Volvo.

Here’s Brandweek’s analysis of the deal.

Comments? Thoughts?

Floyd’s Heartbreaking Ride

Floyd Landis cracked in a huge, sad way today on the ride up to La Toussuire in the Tour De France. He lost all energy and couldn’t keep up when his rivals took off, speeding away and up the climb. It was a long, long day, but those last 11k probably were the longest of his life. Chris Carmichael, writing on Bicycling Magazine’s website, offered some context and condolences in his "Everybody Bonks Sometime article.

We’ve gotten so used to Lance Armstrong’s kevlar-strong performances. We’re not used to seeing real heartbreak like Landis’ – a catastrophic failure for the ages –  from the yellow jersey wearer. So, I found myself thinking yesterday after the Alp D’Huez that Floyd would just cruise into Paris a’la Lance and sweep up his first Tour win. But, today was a reminder of why we all love the race: the drama, the heartbreak. And, even though my guy is not going to win, it’s still a beautiful spectacle.   

Saying GoodBye To Eric

Originally uploaded by ehavir.

I met my geeky match at work in Eric Havir. He knows the internet, the trends, the tech, the memes as well as, or better, than anyone I know. He’s now at Microsoft (and you know they only hire idiots, right?) managing some small business products. We miss him a lot, but we’re getting along ok. Keep in touch eric!

I am, of course, talking out of my ass at his goodbye party. It’s axiomatic: give cuene a beer, clavenisms follow. Then…crickets. Poor eric had to listen patiently while his beer warmed up, thinking, “they don’t pay me enough to keep listening to this goober. I can’t wait until Bill signs my checks”.

Tour de France 2006

There is so much coverage of the Tour these days, more than ever, thanks to the rise of the Americans in the sport. The sport has always been readliy available online, thank god, so cycling dweebs like me could follow every detail (“look at the color of Lance’s socks!” Is Julich using an old Biopace 54 on the front ring?”) and the majore news. Here’s a quick rundown of the sites to use to follow the sport.

Every year, the official page of the Tour de France gets a little better. This year, it’s taken a big leap forward and the site is more rich, more full featured than ever.

Cyclingnews has always been the unofficial homepage for cycling. Obsessive, professional, neat as an economists spreadsheet, the site is phenomenally rich. And, with two to three major updates a day, it’s good for those of us who need a frequent fix. Their live coverage at is what I’lll be reading everyday. It’s a funny (the commentators are obsessed with roadside fauna and drunk fans), accurate and insightful.

The Outside Magazine section on the Tour is pretty good this year. I’ll subscribe to their RSS feeds.

Allan Lim, the coach for Floyd Landis, has signed up to write for Bicycling magazine. I’ll be reading his daily updates on the details of Landis’ performance. Based on Landis’ metrics (power output, pulse, weight, speed, cadence, etc.), Lim willgive us insights into how Landis is doing each day. Nirvana for cycling geeks.