Volvo’s Commercial Avoids Tragedy Through Technology

The company returns to its message of safety in its commercial, Moments

Volvo’s latest  commercial is both beautiful and on brand.

“Moments,” introduces you to a girl, no more than 10-years-old, getting ready for school and a working woman, tired and frazzled, getting ready to head out on her morning commute.

The dialogue in the Volvo commercial is between the girl and her mom. The girl is worried about her first day of school. Her mom comforts her, telling her she’s in control of how the day goes – and those that follow. The girl starts to imagine she’ll make new friends – best friends – with whom she’ll share birthday parties, play soccer and grow up together. As she imagines these scenarios, we see beautiful moments of the girl growing up alongside her new found friends.

Meanwhile, a man on the phone abruptly tells a woman driving a Volvo XC60 that she’s late for work. At the same time, the girl has started to make her way to school. In a voiceover, we hear the conversation between the girl and her mom continue. And on the screen, we see the girl growing up. Starting a career. Meeting a boy. Buying a house. Maybe even having a baby of her own, a daughter.

The woman driving spills her coffee, looks down at her burnt hand, the mess. At that moment, the same girl crosses the road in front of her car. The car’s system detects the girl and stops automatically. The jolt of the brake makes the woman look up. She and the girl lock eyes. While the little girl is oblivious of the tragedy that nearly unfolded, the woman understands the car’s anti-braking system just saved this girl’s life.

The ad goes to black with just these words: “Sometimes the moments that never happen matter the most.”

     Related: Automakers Focus on Automatic Emergency Braking

Technology Tackles Distracted Driving

It’s a powerful commercial, one that resonates today. Distracted driving is responsible for 9 people dying in the U.S every day, according the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s over 3,000 lives, cut short, every year. The deft storytelling in this ad explains how we easily arrive at that number. But it also tells Volvo’s mission: the company has announced that by 2020, no one will be killed or seriously injured by one of its new cars.

The advertisement shows how the company plans to get there by touting what it calls “City Safety,” an auto-braking technology. If a collision is imminent, the car will brake automatically if the driver fails to respond, reducing impact – or preventing it altogether. Currently, the system can brake fully if the car is traveling 28 mph or less for pedestrians and cyclists. If the car is moving faster, the automatic braking system can help to mitigate damage, but may not brake fully.

     Related: Why I Can’t (but Must) Wait for My Uber

A Previous Misstep

Volvo’s previous commercial, “Wedding,” also features beautiful production, but it wound up bewildering viewers. It shows a woman in her mid-40s driving a Volvo XC90 with three other men who attended an event with her. In the 30-second version, the viewer is never told who each of them are or how they relate to one another. There’s an obvious tenderness between the woman driving and the older gentleman in the seat right behind her. We know this because he glances down at his wedding ring with nostalgia and then reaches out to touch the woman’s shoulder who is driving the car. But is he her husband? A cousin? Someone who drank too much at the reception who’s getting a ride home from a friend?

The longer version – which clocks in at 3 minutes – fills in more of the backstory, but still fails to give viewers enough of a story to make the ad’s tagline fit: Our idea of luxury.


The commercial spawned its own hashtag, #volvowedding. On Twitter, viewers debated whether the commercial was good because it created intrigue, or whether it was bad, because no one really understood what was going on.

At the end of the day, the commercial got people to talk about the brand, but it didn’t communicate what is undeniably the company’s strategic differentiator: Safety.

“Moments” delivers on that, all while telling an all too familiar tragic story that, in this instance, gets a happy ending, courtesy of driverless technology.

Article written by: M.G. Rhodes.  Submitted: 1/30/18

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