Volvo Trucks creates a broad footprint across the social web for new truck launch

Paparazzi ChallengeSome of the most imaginative uses of social media in support of marketing and brand communication are in the car industry.

If you follow what’s happening in that industry from a social media perspective, you’ll know about what companies like Ford (surely today’s poster child for the social car industry) and General Motors in the US, Opel in Germany and Nissan globally are doing – just four examples of imagination and creativity at work, clearly supporting measurable business goals.

The car industry’s automotive big brother, trucks, isn’t an industry that naturally comes to my mind when I think of social media.

Yet here’s a terrific example of what one truck maker is doing that embraces multiple social channels and approaches to produce a compelling example of how imagination and creativity is key to securing target-audience engagement with a measurable – and hopefully successful – outcome.

Tomorrow, March 19, Volvo Trucks formally launches its Volvo FM line of trucks in Europe. The trucks feature technical innovation in the steering, for instance, that the company says “gives the driver effortless steering at low speeds as well as unbeatable directional stability on the open road.”

As part of its pre-launch awareness-raising prep for the new vehicle, Volvo Trucks has been running a contest over the past few weeks that is very much in the vein of what car makers and others selling consumer products do – the Paparazzi Challenge:

We have sent two new Volvo FM on a tour of Europe. If you take the very first photo of one before it’s launched, you can test-drive it on an all expenses paid trip to Gothenburg, Sweden. We award the same prize to the best photo from each country.

Volvo Trucks produced a short video explaining what the contest is, how it would work, and how to participate.

The contest was promoted online in places such as Worldtrucker, a major online trucker community (sponsored by Volvo and open to truckers driving any marque, not just Volvo).  Each photo taken and uploaded to the website connected with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Worldtrucker for easy sharing, thus spreading the contest word across the social web.

paparazzi-facebook

paparazzi-twitter

paparazzi-pinterest

And the word clearly did spread throughout the trucker community, and those interested in trucks – or those prompted by the idea of the contest to snap a pic when they saw one of the trucks on their journeys criss-crossing Europe.

The only question I have is over the choice of hashtag: #paparazzi. Pretty generic and non-exclusive, I’d say, perhaps reflected in how hard it is to find any mention of Volvo Trucks or the Volvo FM amongst all the noise around that hashtag.

Still, hundreds of photographs of the Volvo FM trucks have been uploaded and shared to the Paparazzi Challenge website, many of them further shared via the connected social networks. An interactive map of Europe shows how many photos were posted in each country, with links to each photo.

On the eve of the formal launch tomorrow of the new trucks, the two much-photographed travelling trucks are now back at home base in Sweden and the contest is closed.

Already there are lucky prize winners from each country the trucks were seen it. They’ll soon be test-driving the Volvo FM themselves. And Volvo Trucks will have gained a niche but broad footprint on the social web with all those images of and talk about the new truck in real-world conditions, just waiting to be served up in search results and discovered and shared on social networks.

Not bad results from a drive across Europe.

  • Bonus video – last year, Volvo Trucks conducted an imaginative PR stunt to demonstrate the precision control a driver has with a Volvo FH truck. Check out The Ballerina Stunt at YouTube – and hold your breath!

[This post is part of an experiment in brand story-telling.]