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 poll confirms that the motoring public also believe that the current hybrid and electric car exemption is outdated and unfair.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 (
Clicky Web Analytics