Adwatch: The Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid – Batteries Not Included

Our time spent recently with Volvo’s V60 T6 Polestar got me thinking – is there a better all-round model in Volvo’s range? The T6 Polestar ticks plenty of boxes, but after driving around in a diesel for the past 4-years the T6’s mid-20s fuel consumption came as something of a shock.

The five-cylinder 2.4-litre D5 is more frugal (45.6mpg vs 28.5mpg), but it’s more than 1.5 seconds slower to 60mph. Couldn’t Volvo provide it with a bit more oomph without losing any of its miserly thirst?

That’s when I remembered the new V60 Plug-in Hybrid, due to go on sale in November 2012 and make its inaugural appearance at next month’s Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Volvo’s V60 Plug-in Hybrid is to all intents and purposes a five-cylinder 212bhp D5 with a 68bhp electric motor strapped to the rear axle. Well, perhaps it’s a little more complex than that, but the end result is 280bhp and 660Nm (488 lb-ft) compared to the T6’s 300bhp and 440Nm (325 lb-ft). Now that’s ‘much’ more like it.

It will be the first Volvo with the D6 badge, which the company says is because the combined performance of the five-cylinder turbo diesel and electric motor puts the car firmly within the same horsepower range as the petrol powered T6. The D6 improves upon the D5’s performance – with 0 to 60mph now despatched in 6.0 seconds, just one tenth of a second behind the petrol T6.

Fuel economy is better, but just how much better is difficult to say. Volvo have not as yet provided comparative fuel consumption figures (in the conventional Urban, Extra-urban and Combined formats), instead they tell us the D6 is capable of 123.8mpg. Yes, let me say that again – 123.8mpg (see, it wasn’t a typo), whilst producing just 49g/km of CO₂. In ‘HYBRID’ mode, which allows both power sources to work together for maximum efficiency, the D6 has a potential range of 621 miles.

Such otherworldly fuel consumption is only available in Hybrid mode, so we’d like to know what it would achieve in normal road use, but hey, a car which covers the 0-60mph sprint in 6.0 seconds whilst offering the possibility of 120+mpg certainly gets my attention.

Volvo have talked about an indicative price of £45,000 and £50,000 in the UK, which puts it close to £10,000 above the standard T6, but the first batch of 1,000 cars will be offered with the Pure Limited specification, which includes the highest SE Lux trim level and just one colour – Electric Silver.

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With three driving modes – PURE, HYBRID, and POWER, all-wheel drive, two-stage braking system with energy recovery, a start/stop system and an efficient 6-speed automatic transmission, the new D6 will be a technofest’s delight, so I was keen to take a look at how Volvo planned on marketing its new Plug-in Hybrid.

Unboxing is a popular term in Tech industry marketing, where the ceremonial unwrapping of a new computer, gadget or latest consumer device from its packaging is filmed in intricate detail. Sounds a bit (Johnny no-mates) sad doesn’t it? Well this is the first time I’ve never seen it applied to a car and in a strange way it kind of works.

The V60 Plug-in Hybrid is placed, as you can imagine, in a giant box and then unwrapped. Volvo then featured the unboxing (and trying out the new gadget) into a series of five videos, three of which have been turned into video adverts as you can see below:

Sponsored Video: Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid: Unboxing Episode 1   [ please click to open]

 

Sponsored Video: Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid: Unboxing Episode 2   [ please click to open]

 

Sponsored Video: Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid: Unboxing Episode 3   [ please click to open]

 

Filmed in an Apple-like white studio, Video 1 shows a team of immaculately dressed Volvo technicians carefully unbox the V60, removing the owner’s manual, power lead and accompanying accessories (no batteries though..).

In Video 2, the Volvo technicians rather surprisingly decide to dismantle the V60 Plug-in Hybrid (Don’t try this with your new iPad) and show us the innovative technology used under the skin. Presumably a different group of technicians were left with the task of putting it all back together again.

Video 3 is the Bench Test (carried out on a test track rather than a bench), where Volvo demonstrate the range of its V60 Plug-in Hybrid, much to the angst of Volvo’s hard-working technicians who are left nothing to do but wait. And wait. And wait some more.

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How is the video campaign doing?

Volvo’s Unboxing campaign has performed surprisingly well since Episode 1 was launched at the beginning of March 2012. Normally such serialized campaigns draw in the numbers at the beginning, but fall away pretty quickly once initial curiosity has been satisfied.

As you can see from the table below, the videos have performed consistently across all videos in the series, in terms of video views. This may, in part, be due to all five videos being released at the same time – with links to subsequent videos embedded at the end.

When you dig a little deeper into the psychology of advertising effectiveness, you’ll find the discussion settling on either the central route of persuasion and cognitive reasoning – where a person weighs up the merits of a particular position, or what’s often referred to as the peripheral route to attitude change – where the advert associates with positive or negative cues.

The really clever aspect of the Unboxing videos is the way they appear primarily cognitive in their focus – Episode 2 explains the innovative technologies used in the V60 Plug-in Hybrid, thus reasoning with the audience about why these are of benefit to them, but Episode 1 and 3 associate with more peripheral thought processes – the expectation of unwrapping the latest piece of must-have technology and the freedom gained from owning a car that covers 1,000 km on a single tank of fuel.

Appealing to our sense of imagination and reasoning, plays to both forms of persuasion but the campaign achieves such a high-level of engagement without the viral push from social sharing. In fact Shares per View (%) is embarrassingly low – 0.25% at its highest compared to between 1% and 2% for an average viral campaign (top performers such as Ken Block’s Gymkhana videos achieve between 12% and 16%).

So, perhaps there’s a lesson here for brands trying create that next big viral video campaign. Stop chasing the end of the rainbow, build in both direct and peripheral forms of persuasion and don’t stage the release of your serialized campaign but instead make it easy for people to discover the full story.

Audiences like to consume their branded content in one sitting, not be teased with the drip-drip of episodes spread over the campaign’s duration. If you keep people’s attention and engage their curiosity, then perhaps that carefully crafted marketing message stands a chance of being understood.

If Volvo can accumulate more than 2.2 million video views in such a short timeframe, then perhaps it’s time for every brand to set its aspirations a little higher.

Episode Views Social Shares
Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid: Unboxing Episode 1 471,831 1,213
Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid: Unboxing Episode 2 428,951 502
Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid: Unboxing Episode 3 426,894 149
Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid: Unboxing Episode 4 442,522 215
Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid: Unboxing Episode 5 440,784 665

Credits:  all data provided by Unruly Media’s Viral Video Chart.

Disclosure: This article is sponsored in part by Volvo, however all views expressed within are entirely our own. Sponsored articles are accepted at our own discretion and only where we believe such focus or analysis will benefit our readers. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this article further, then get in touch via email or using the contact tab on this page.