How Volvo Trucks Turned B2B Video Into a Viral Art Form

Ask Swedish marketing manager Björn Owen Glad about the future of marketing, and it’ll only take him a split-second to tell you about the power of content.

As an employee of Spoon, the content marketing agency for Volvo Trucks, Glad is helping drive some of Europe’s increasingly ambitious content marketing projects. Across the continent, more than 70 percent of European marketers created more content last year than they did in 2014.

Volvo Trucks, which is one of the largest B2B truck companies in the world, may be best known for its 2013 video, “The Epic Split,” which featured Jean-Claude Van Damme doing a split across two vehicles moving in reverse. The clip became an immediate hit, racking up more than 80 million views.

Since that viral success, innovative content has been the fuel that keeps the marketing engine running for Volvo Trucks.

“To succeed with content marketing, you must have a multi-channel way of thinking simply because a brand’s audience is scattered among a lot of different platforms, channels, and media,” Glad said.

Over the last few years, Spoon has created a variety of big projects ranging from Swedish-language stories for Volvo Trucks Magazineinfographics about energy trends, animations, the Welcome to My Cab web series that takes viewers inside customized truck cabs, and even a demo companion piece for “The Epic Split” that received 1.7 million views of its own. (“The Epic Split” was created by another agency, Forsman & Bodenfors.)

Glad stressed that most of the content is meant to be repurposed for multiple channels. For example, a recent story titled “Keeping alive on one of the world’s most dangerous roads” was published on the digital version of the magazine last August, reformatted with a new layout for Facebook, adapted into a video, and accompanied by an animated GIF. The story was also expanded into an eight-page spread with the title “Close to Heaven” in the print version of the magazine.

While Volvo Trucks relies on a diverse output, video has become its biggest resource when it comes to engaging its target audience: companies with large fleets of trucks as well as small businesses looking for transportation solutions and a brand with a premium image.

“Video is a very flexible media where we can create a longer story for YouTube, which then can be cut down in shorter episodes and published in other social media channels like Facebook or LinkedIn,” said Agneta Malmcrona, the global content manager at Volvo Trucks. “We see this as a smart way to think broad and narrow at the same time, and it is also a very cost efficient way of working.”

A year after “The Epic Split” came “Volvo Trucks vs. Koenigsegg,” which pitted a Volvo truck against a high-performance sports car to showcase the dual clutch gearbox in the brand’s heavy-duty trucks. The campaign which ran for three weeks, took Spoon more than six months from concept to conclusion. But the effort was well worth it. The video only needed a week to get a million views online, leading to 412 earned media headlines in 35 different countries

Creating all of this content requires a colossal amount of manpower. According to Eric Lundekrans, a Spoon account manager, the company employs dozens of creatives, from editors to art directors to motion graphics designers to video reporters. “In a big project, all of these roles are represented,” he said. “But our editors should be able to do what editors at any modern publishing house are doing—write, handle photos, create GIFs, simple video editing, simple coding as necessary, publish on all digital platforms, boost posts in social, and analyze data.”

When it comes to collaborating, Volvo Trucks provides the direction for what it wants to communicate about a product, service, or core brand value while Spoon devises the concepts and executes. “It is very much a tight and transparent client-agency-relationship where everybody brings ideas to the table,” Lundekrans said.

“In bigger marketing campaigns, the aim is often to create broad awareness, but at the same time to create leads,” Malmcrona said. “We have been successful in creating leads in marketing campaigns simply by linking from video-based content in social media to a dealer landing page. This gives us a very good ROI.”

A little Jean-Claude Van Damme didn’t hurt either.

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