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Volvo Really Takes the Plunge in Powerful Ad That Leaves the Car on Shore


In its first global campaign for Volvo, Grey London strives for a "quietly epic" tone to position the Swedish nameplate more firmly in the premium auto space. Director Marcus Söderlund, working through Academy Films, delivers the goods with a visually compelling minute-long film called The Swell.

We open on a moonlit beach, where a Volvo XC60 sits in the sand, the hum of its radio melding with the sounds of the sea. "To feel, to really feel, is a rare thing these days," a voiceover says. We watch a woman paddle her surfboard through dark, choppy water as a huge wave rises with thunderous force … and the tagline, "Seek feeling," flashes on screen.

The Swell weaves its tale in moody hues, offering glimpses of the car as it focuses on the lonely surfer and approaching wave. (Söderlund also directed Grey London's fiery Vodafone ad about emergency responders.)

It's an unexpected approach, and the first campaign from global creative director Hollie Newton, who joined Grey last year from Wieden + Kennedy, where she contributed to award-winning efforts for Lurpak butter. For Lurpak, she designed sensory experiences with cheeky, playful subtexts that reminded viewers not to take the ads too seriously.

The Swell shares this "sensory" sensibility, but ratchets up the intensity to a point where I imagine some viewers might be put off. Even so, Grey deserves credit for making a commercial that ripples with energy without drowning in car-ad clichés.

Credits below.

Client: Volvo
Vice President, Brand Marketing: Tomás Caetano
Marketing Communication Director: Ingela D'Angelo
Marketing Content Director: Magnus Brodd
Project Leader: Anna Wirsen
Spot: The Swell
Agency: Grey, London
Executive Creative Director: Nils Leonard
Global Creative Director: Hollie Newton
Creative Team: Hollie Newton, Jamie Starbuck, Howard Green
Managing Partner: Nick Dutton
Business Director: Camilla Ashenhurst
Account Manager: Mel Caplan
Agency Producer: Harriette Larder
Creative Producer: Glen McLeod
Planning Director: Matt Buttrick
Planner: Hayley Cannon
Production Company: Academy Films
Director: Marcus Söderlund
Editor: Tom Lindsay, Trim
Producer: Medb Riordan
Executive Producer: Lizie Gower
Directors of Photography: André Chémétoff, Allan “Willy” Wilson
Colorist: Aubrey Woodiwiss
Postproduction: Yourick Van Impe, Aubrey Woodiwiss, Electric Theatre Collective
Audio Postproduction: Aaron Reynolds, Wave
Photographer: Gian Paul Lozza

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