Cannes Lions


R/GA, New York / VOLVO / 2015

Case Film
Case Film






Over the last decade, Volvo has suffered a consistent decline in market share. So when the Swedish carmaker radically redesigned its flagship SUV the XC90 they knew they had to launch it in a similar fashion, but with one major constraint: the car wouldn’t be available until spring 2015.

The answer was Volvo Reality, the world’s first virtual reality test drive available to anyone with a smartphone and Google Cardboard, Google’s low-cost, high impact virtual reality headset. In fact, Volvo was the first brand in the US to use Cardboard commercially and the first cross-platform VR experience.

Planned in less than eight weeks, the launch had to overcome the noise of the LA Auto Show; promote a relatively unknown technology; and do this with no support from Google, whose policy was not to provide any PR for their nascent product.

The PR objective was to generate press focused in the tech/innovation press outlets weren’t familiar with the company as an influencer and leverage it to drive website traffic and downloads of the app.

The PR team started with a specific VR mailer to 100 members of the press, two days before the unveiling of the car and launch of Volvo Reality at the LA Auto Show.

The campaign quickly grabbed big buzz among both tech and auto opinion leaders. The impact was huge: over 40,000 downloads and 238M PR impressions with an approximated advertising equivalency value of $28,9M. Most importantly, all first-edition XC90s sold out in less than two days.


With the goal of maximizing media and influencer impact, the app soft launched to a curated list of journalists. As the first of articles broke in publications like Mashable, Fast Company and Digiday, the app was featured at a series of events. A week later, the launch went public through a YouTube homepage takeover and supporting paid, social and organic media media as well as a sweepstakes, where users could enter to win a free Volvo-designed Google Cardboard. It culminated at the LA Autoshow where visitors experienced Volvo Reality firsthand in the interactive social booth.


The impact exceeded all expectations. It garnered over 238 million PR impressions, 159 million paid media impressions, 19 million social media impressions, nearly 4 million video views, earned 24 news stories, a half-million web page views and over 40,000 app downloads. Most importantly, the entire run of first edition XC90s sold out in less than two days and over 34,000 customers raised their hands to be the first to know when an XC90s would be available for them to purchase. For Volvo, Volvo Reality is starting to shape a new reality.

Most importantly, all first-edition XC90s sold out in less than two days.

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