Volvo Logo Sex Symbol

In a bold marketing coup, related to an effort to remove itself from a “too safe” and “family car” image, Volvo launched its S60 in five cities across Europe and conducted, secretly, an experiment designed to measure the naughtiness of the crowd on hand. The campaign is classified as “a behavioural experiment conducted and disguised as a launch party for the all-new naughty Volvo S60.” Guests (an ‘in’ crowd of BPs, bloggers and celebrities) were invited to find the location via an augmented reality application on Layar.  Through a sociological lens, it is certainly taking Volvo down a risqué, non politically correct path… in line with its sex symbol logo (left).  Personally, I think it is a great initiative.  Here is the YouTube video recap on the launch party – slash – experiment.

Drum Roll.

Here is the result:

Paris is naughtiest by a mile

Paris is declared the naughtiest city in Europe (out of 5 cities “tested”) by a miracle mile.  The result is very amusing. Living in Paris has always had its attraction, or should I say its attractions.  Yes, there are the regular tourist venues, the remarkable architecture and the gastronomical repasts.  And there are the naughtier, sexier parts of Paris, namely around Pigalle; there is a rather liberal notion of marital fidelity; and there are also the famous Madames of France.

Yet, how can the Parisian crowd win by such a large margin? Notwithstanding the absence of Amsterdam or the naughty Swedes of Stockholm, the fact that the score was disproportionately high for one city leads me to believe that some elements were not normalized.  Overseen by Swedish anthropologist Dr Katarina Graffman, CEO and owner of Inculture, the tests spank more of subjective criteria.  I have not been able to learn more about how the criteria were set up, but I would be intrigued to find out which type of naughty they were looking for.  Naughty is defined by Webster as follows:

Mischievous; perverse; forward; guilty of disobedient or improper conduct; as, a naughty child

There is plenty of space between mischievous and perverse…  If the experiment was highly qualitative and probably intended as tongue in cheek, I certainly enjoyed reading about the campaign.  Going back to my Redken days, we used to use the term “naughty” in briefing our agency for our ad campaigns (especially for the styling products, in any event).  Played subtly, I firmly believe there is a desire to be a little naughty in all of us.

What do you think of this campaign? Is it fitting for Volvo? Your comments are entirely welcome.

*****As a side note, I hired a Volvo S60 on our latest family holidays in Sweden and can vouch for how sexy the car was to drive… Lots of pickup, hehe.

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