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?

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