Blog: Dave LeggettDom Joly and Volvo

Dave Leggett | 11 December 2009

I can see how the thinking goes in the marketing department. Let's do a viral thing on the Interweb; YouTube, social networking, let's get something going that will grab people's attention in a parts-work and promote a core value that we want to communicate. Brand value? How about the fuel economy of our diesels? Yes, that would work. Road trip? How far can you go on a full tank? Can we think of a journey that sounds quite long?

Milan to Marlow? Consonant aliteration of sorts. Okay, so far so good. And who does the driving? Well known comedian? We need at least two to get some banter going. We're not asking Jack Dee after that last fiasco. Bill Bailey would do it but he can't drive and Eddie Izzard's people say he's way too busy. What about Dom Joly – that amenable guy who fronted Trigger Happy TV? He writes sponsored articles in newspapers that involve free holidays in exotic places, so he might well go for it and he's not in the stratosphere on fees. Oh, he's bitten our hand off, great. Co-driver? See if there's a lesser known comedian who's available – have a look at the panel shows on Channel Dave.

Does it work? That I'm not so sure about. The premise is fine, but not quite a grabber. I can't imagine people excitedly forwarding on the links. It just needs something else to make it stand out. Something that would raise eyebrows or make you think 'that's original'.

And the bar has, I'm afraid, been kind of lowered in these times of wall-to-wall reality TV and bite-sized clips on demand of dancing parakeets and farting newscasters. They drive in the buff? Or they do 100 miles each day and have to find lodging and food wherever they happen to end up? They drive in fancy dress? Historical characters? People vote online for their next-day costumes or characters? I don't know, but the thing with the viral stuff is that it has to have instant impact to make people want to share it.

We know modern diesel engines are efficient and we pretty much accept that as an industry standard; it's not something heavily brand-specific in car markets where diesel penetration is high. It might be better to make the viral ad or webisodes have instant impact and get the brand across in a 'by association' manner. The comedy idea or outlandish notion needs to be fairly strong, I think, if that's the way you are going. (You can be more arty if you want, like BMW did a few years ago with its Guy Ritchie films, but that will cost you a whole lot more.)

It just feels a little bit 'by the numbers'. And we obviously know how it's going to end (yes, our heroes do the journey on one tank - just - surprise, surprise). Maybe something with a more uncertain outcome could be worked in. A 'finishing line' somewhere a bit more interesting than Volvo's UK HQ in Marlow might have been an idea. But I'm maybe being over critical - good to see Volvo's UK people going in this direction.


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