Volvo Trucks Campaign Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme wins Grand Prix

Jean-Claude Van Damme does an epic split – suspended between two Volvo trucks – and makes advertising gold.

When auto enthusiasts hear the term “Grand Prix,” they undoubtedly think of racing, or perhaps of hotshot actor James Garner and the gorgeous Eva Marie Saint in the 1966 film of the same name. But there’s a Grand Prix of another sort, and action flick hero Jean-Claude Van Damme just helped Volvo land one of them. And we here at E3 Spark Plugs are duly impressed.

Turns out the Grand Prix (French for “grand prize”) also is an award handed out at the annual Cannes Lions event in Cannes, France.

“Cannes Lions is the world’s biggest celebration of creativity in communications,” the event’s website says. “Benchmarking innovation in anything from mobile and billboards to design and branded content, it’s the home of the great ideas changing the ways brands interact with their customers.”

This year, Volvo took scored two Grand Prix in the competitions Film and Cyber categories. The company’s film win came by way of a 1:17 commercial titled The Epic Split and starring Van Damme doing, well… an epic split. The video shows the champion kick boxer-turned-box office beast with his feet planted on the door tops of two Volvo semi-trucks. The trucks roll backward and slowly separate, leaving Van Damme suspended in the air doing a perfect split.

“This test was set up to demonstrate the stability and precision of Volvo Dynamic Steering,” the ad reads. “It was carried out by professionals in a closed-off area.”

In other words – don’t be boneheaded enough to try this at home, folks.

Volvo also won a Grand Prix for its online campaign involving a series of videos of live tests of its trucks. Bulls, hamsters and a hard-hatted technician buried up to his neck in dirt with a Volvo truck roaring toward him in an attempt to prove 300-milimeter ground clearance all appeared in the live test videos, helping Volvo to rack up 100 million YouTube views, 8 million shares and literally thousands of spoof videos starring the likes of Chuck Norris, Chris Hemsworth and a cartoon Jack Nicholson, which scored the campaign another 50 million views. The result – an online fan base that grew thousands of times over and earned a media value of $170 million.

Also taking home a Titanium Lion was Honda Motor Co. for its Honda Sound, a two-minute promotional piece highlighting engineering that helped Ayrton Senna set a new world record for the fastest track lap in the 1989 F1 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying round. Earlier this year, the company used paper analytics, sound recordings and lights strategically placed around the track to develop a 3-D recreation of that history-making qualifying lap. The result was the most watched You Tube video by an automobile company in Japan’s history.

Turns out automotive advertising involves just as much creative engineering as does creating the vehicles themselves. Which is your favorite? Post your thoughts on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page.


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