Thursday, December 3, 2009

One of the best Social Media gadgets I've ever come across....

Every now and then, you come across something that's so simple yet so effective that you just have to share it. So here it is. I would really encourage you to have a go for yourselves as this is one of those simple-to-use internet gadgets that could, if put into the right hands, do a fantastic job of bringing consumers and brands together.

Just upload your photo and follow the instructions.

I challenge you to tell me I'm wrong. It's every-so-slightly slow but go on, I promise you you won't be disappointed.

Milan to Marlow - the movie

It's been a while since my last post - I've been waiting for the arrival of the promised short internet viral films from Volvo's recent Marlow to Milan (and back!) eco-driving challenge.

Everybody who tried to make the 810 mile journey did so, much to their surprise I think. Only one car didn't make it, but they gunned it all the way back and still got as far as Calais before needing to top up.

And as part of the event, we put two well-known comedians - Dom Joly (of Trigger Happy TV fame) and Rufus Hound (from Argumental on Dave TV) into a car to see what they'd get up to on such a long journey. Predictably, it wasn't your usual road trip and it gave us enough content to make three films - enjoy!

Trailer -

Part One -

Part Two -

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Marlow to Milan, on one tank of fuel

So exactly how far can you travel on one tank of fuel? This was the question posed a couple of months ago when first thinking about how to launch Volvo's new DRIVe range of environmental large cars. A large car with a small 1.6-litre diesel engine. That won't work, surely!

Well, the UK's first motoring writers to try the car seem to have decided that it's not actually an oxymoron after all. Settling off from Marlow at 9:00am yesterday morning, the six cars were driven in an economical yet spirited way across France, arriving at the overnight stop in Metz in fine form.

The challenge of seeing if the car could actually make it to Milan seemed to have griped them. Once they realised that it would probably do it, the secondary challenge of how many miles could remain on the range by the time they reached Milan took over. Cloak and Dagger prevailed, with questions of who had what range remaining dominating conversation.

As I write, the first car is approximately 60 miles from Milan and after about 740 miles, is still showing 160 miles remaining, indicating a possible 900 mile range. In a car the size of a Volvo S80, that'd have been unthinkable only a few years ago.

We'll be making a video of the journey with two well-known comedians so call back soon to follow their exploits.

Friday, September 11, 2009

What to do next?

I know that it's wrong to start with an apology but I've not been able to post for what seems like ages, so sorry - there, said it.

I'm brought back to the blog by an experience last night that I've never faced before and will probably never face again. It's not to do with Social Media and only loosely connected to Volvo, but I feel duty bound to share it.

I was at a presentation to a group of customers at a dealership, having been asked to deliver a 20-minute presentation on Volvo's PR and Social media strategy. There I was, in full flow, and just coming to the finale when.......

A lady in the front row fainted!!

Now, what do you do? How do you deal with that? I've read all sorts of books about presentation techniques, and what to do if you think your loosing your audience, how to enliven the delivery etc, but never what to do if somebody passes out straight in front of you.

Fortunately the young lady made a quick and full recovery but it did leave me as the presenter questioning what I'd done, whether she'd been thoroughly bored and decided that being comatose was a better option. I don't know. All I do know is that this is one eventuality that needs to be added to "How to..." manual!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Introducing the new Volvo C70

At its launch in early 2006, the Volvo C70 broke new ground as the world's first four seater convertible with a retractable hard top. More than three years on, the new Volvo C70 coupe/convertible is set to break new ground with a refreshed design to give the car a new look, roof up or down. The new C70 retains the three-piece retractable roof, spacious seating for four adults and class-leading convertible safety standards as the outgoing model.

New front view
The front of the new C70 takes inspiration from the S60 Concept that was unveiled in early 2009, thereby making the C70 more closely aligned with the design language of the larger cars in the Volvo range.

The refresh extends beyond plastic components as the front wings have been redesigned to give the nose a more distinct wedge-shape. There are new headlamps which now have a more pronounced upward orientation, whilst more detail has been added around the fog lamps and the lower grille.

From the front, the bonnet and grille form an open, inviting "V" shape, whilst the enlarged iron mark and the new, larger air intakes reinforce a strong on-the-road stance.
To offer even more road presence a dramatic Flamenco Red Pearl colour has been introduced.

New rear design
The rear of the car continues the front's new bold design. High-tech LED lamps, as found on the XC60, are the most noticeable addition to the rear and the entire lamp unit is now clearly integrated with the oval that frames the new C70's rear panel.
Into the car

The interior has also been given a refresh to create a more comfortable and luxury feel. The instrument panel has been redesigned to give it a wider, sleeker look with improved finish. The surface of the panel has a new texture that enhances the quality feel.
To further enhance comfort levels, the seats have been upholstered in a new, softer hide offering all occupants a greater level of comfort.

The new Volvo C70 in detail
The Volvo C70 transforms smoothly from a coupe into an open convertible in just 30 seconds. At the press of a button, the three-part steel roof folds quickly and silently away, disappearing neatly into the boot.

It has also been engineered as one of the safest convertibles on the market with regard to both preventative and protective safety. The car has an advanced body structure and several solutions that are unique to convertible cars and the lack of a fixed roof has been compensated by structural reinforcements.

Protection in roll-over accidents
The Volvo C70 features sturdy metal roll bars that extend up behind the rear seat passengers to create added protective space should the car roll over. These bars, which are part of Volvo's Rollover Protection System - ROPS - are activated by a gyro-sensor. Since the Volvo C70 has a glass rear window, the bars force through the glass if the roof is in place and so have been fitted with small hardened metal spikes that break the glass to guarantee protection.
Door-mounted inflatable curtain

One important part of the side-impact and rollover protection is the inflatable curtain, IC, which is installed in the doors as there is no roof rail to fit it to. The curtain has an extra-stiff design so the curtain can remain upright and help protect the head effectively even if the window is open. The curtain also deflates slowly, helping to provide added protection should the car roll over.
Side-impact airbags and safety belt pre-tensioners for all seats.

In addition to the inflatable curtains on either side, the front seat occupants also have side-impact airbags. The size of these bags is dimensioned to protect both the chest and hips. The IC interacts with the belt pre-tensioners to offer the best possible protection for front seat occupants in the event of an accident. All four seats come with safety belt pre-tensioners.

Further pricing and specification details
Full details, including prices and specification, of the new Volvo C70, will be released closer to the on-sale date. First C70s are expected to be in showrooms and delivered to customers in early 2010.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

When Social Media feeds the traditional world

Those of you who follow this blog will have been following Volvo's Emission Equality London Congestion Charge campaign. In essence, Volvo has challenged The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to review the basis on which exemptions are made in his Congestion Charge for hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles.

And just the other day, success was achieved when he agreed that vehicle technology had progressed since the Congestion Charge was initiated in 2003, and that he would review the exemption and report before the year end.

Obviously I'm pleased by the result. However, I've also been fascinated by the way in which a social media campaign has gained traction in the traditional media world. Apart from two press releases sent out to the motoring media, the campaign has been conducted entirely socially using Facebook - and Twitter - And although it's taken a few weeks, these groups have grown and as a result, have come onto the radar of traditional journalists. First yesterday in The Guardian and then finally to the BBC

Just goes to show that both worlds feed off one another and why a Social Media campaign needs to be considered as a part of a broader communications strategy rather than a media in isolation

Monday, August 3, 2009

Volvo Car UK succeeds in its Congestion Charge challenge to the Mayor of London

- The Mayor of London has agreed to review the exemption for alternative fuel vehicles.
- The public have spoken - only one third of motorists believe that the current exemption is fair.

Following its challenge to The Mayor of London, Volvo Car UK has been successful in its bid to review the current Congestion Charge alternative fuel exemption that, Volvo believes, unfairly biases hybrid cars over other low-emitting vehicles.

In his response to the campaign, The Mayor confirmed that the exemption to the Congestion Charge was introduced to incentivise the take-up of more environmentally-friendly vehicles but that he recognised that vehicle technology has developed considerably since then. Transport for London will report their recommendations by the end of the year.

The news comes at the same time as a What Car? poll confirms that the motoring public also believe that the current hybrid and electric car exemption is outdated and unfair.

In the poll, conducted on the homepage of, 50 per cent of over 1,500 respondents confirmed that they believed that any exemption should be CO2 based while only 34 per cent believed that the status quo, where all hybrid or electric cars are exempt, is fair.

If this view were to be enacted, drivers of Volvo's C30, S40 and V50 DRIVe cars featuring Start / Stop technology would be able to travel around the country's capital free of charge.

Last month, Stuart Kerr, Regional President for Europe from Volvo Car Corporation wrote to The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, highlighting the disparity between the treatment of hybrid and conventional internal combustion-engined cars. In essence, drivers of hybrid cars enter the zone free of charge on a daily basis while drivers of low emission cars powered by conventional internal combustion engines with the same, or even lower, levels of emissions are charged £8.00 per day. This 'tax' could add a financial burden of over £2,000 per year to those drivers who have selected a traditionally-powered low emission car.

Since the original letter was sent, the Emission Equality campaign has attracted hundreds of supporters on Facebook (, Twitter, ( and Volvo Car UK's own website (
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