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Client – Volvo

Markets – Global

Timing – Sept 2014 – Dec 2014

Agencies/Vendors – DigitasLBi, Autodesk, Haymaker FX, Joffery Louis, Kaliber Ljud, Zooma

Tech Word Cloud – Virtual test drive, Oculus Rift, social innovation, social commerce, interactivity

Volvo wanted to change the way luxury cars are marketed with the launch of their XC90, creating a virtual reality test drive and e-commerce campaign that allowed people to purchase a car they’d never physically seen.


As Volvo prepared to launch its most luxurious car to date, the Volvo XC90, they needed to find a way to sell a car that, thus far, didn’t exist. With the car not yet in production and no tangible vehicle for potential buyers to look at, Volvo had to make people feel comfortable buying a car that they couldn’t physically see.


Instead of waiting for the right customer to come to them, Volvo selected their desired drivers – influential, VIP customers from around the world – to experience the new XC90 in virtual reality. Volvo picked people whom they felt shared the brand’s pioneering spirit, like Spotify founder, Daniel Ek, Google Glass designer, Isabelle Olsson, and more. They also invited select guests to take a virtual test drive of the new car at the Paris Motor Show using Oculus Rift Technology. “Drivers” watched as the new XC90 formed around them with 3D rendered technology, where they could experience a drive through the Swedish countryside. The campaign also allowed customers to buy the car online, exclusively on the campaign website and Facebook.


The technology behind the campaign was the Oculus Rift DK2 virtual reality headset with groundbreaking optical head-tracking feature. The head-tracking technology allows for total immersion and increased frame rate resolution. Volvo used this in combination with real-time 3D rendered content and binaural sound to create an ultra-realistic test drive of the new model.


Volvo turned to DigitasLBi, which produced the whole project in-house in their VR Center of Excellence in Gothenburg, Sweden. They had several tech partners work on the real-time 3D engine (Autodesk), animation (Haymaker FX), shading (Joffrey Louis), sound production (Kaliber Ljud) and CAD data prep (Zooma). Volvo hopes to use this technology in the future to redefine the norms of storytelling and marketing.


Just 47 hours after the launch of the VR campaign, the XC90 inventory – 1,927 vehicles in all – sold out. Most of the cars were reserved within one hour of the launch. The campaign generated a 400% increase in Facebook shares, with 40.1 million total Facebook impressions and 86,000 clicks to the campaign site. Due to its success, the virtual Volvo is now on a global tour.