23 November 2018

Presenting... Well, Nothing!

Over the years, we have seen automakers invest millions of pounds in vehicle launches at prestigious automotive events around the world; usually presented alongside famous brand ambassadors on the biggest stage imaginable. This has been the failsafe option for brands unveiling their new products to the world, choosing a ‘bigger is better’ approach. However, as we move into the era of future mobility, automakers are trying to figure out modern marketing strategies that many technology giants have been following for years. And, through this, are no longer stuck on the traditional ideas that they once lived by.

Take Volvo for example; the Swedish automaker will be attending the LA Auto Show, now referred to as Automobility LA, but not in the way you would expect it to. The company plans to merely display “This Is Not A Car” on its stand that, as you can guess, lacks any automotive presence at all. First and foremost, this reflects the massive disruption of the automotive industry, thanks to the influx of autonomy and new transport solutions on the horizon. I totally get the underlining message which Volvo is trying to portray, although this does seem a step too far.

Before anything else, I must acknowledge that I am, like many other journalists, spotlighting Volvo within this Editor’s Note; which is the main goal of the company’s new marketing scheme. However, this is more about the state of the modern automotive industry, which is seeing automakers trying all sorts of techniques to propel themselves into the limelight - to the point where they won’t even bring their own products to shows. Gone are the days of jam-packed events full of executives and shiny cars.

Volvo says that this approach “will demonstrate its vision, redefining what a car can be,” illustrating that a car brand today is “more important than chrome, leather or horsepower.” Mårten Levenstam, responsible for product strategy at Volvo Cars, released a statement that read: “We want to demonstrate that we got the memo and start a conversation about the future of automobility. So instead of bringing a concept car, we talk about the concept of a car. We will not win the ‘car of the show’ award this year, but we are comfortable with that. Because this is not a car show.” What Volvo believes is a “powerful statement” is certainly ballsy but, without physical products on display, will this backfire? We shall find out at the end of this month.

Alex Kreetzer

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