Volvo Car Corporation has a stronger business focus on the Volvo Ocean Race this time around. The list of activities is both long and global. More guests, more test drives, more focus on cars in the exhibition. Volvo City Safety will be demonstrated regularly and most stopover markets will launch the Volvo XC60 while the Volvo Ocean Race is there.
A stopover is a major event. Tens of thousands of guests and general spectators come to the Race Village - many to see the Volvo Open 70 boats and perhaps catch a glimpse of a famous skipper. Others simply come out of curiosity. All of them will somehow encounter the Volvo brand.
At each stopover, there will be a Volvo Pavilion with a brand and product exhibition and a hospitality floor: the Volvo@SeaLounge. The Volvo Pavilion is the hub for all Volvo's activities at the Race Village. This time, it is larger than ever before in order to accommodate thousands of guests. During the last Volvo Ocean Race, there were 2.8 million visitors and this time the Race Office is expecting more. Volvo Cars has about 3,000 international guests travelling to the stopovers and at least twice as many local guests. This does not include the around 20,000 VIP guests from the syndicates and the Volvo Group.
Showing the brand
At the brand exhibition, there are products on display from all the Volvo companies, in both natural size and smaller versions for remote racing. This is the place to book your guided tour through the Race Village. At most stopovers, guests can sign up for a test drive of one of the latest Volvo models. Or they can be given a demonstration of Volvo City Safety, the latest new safety function in which the car brakes automatically.
Volvo's brand values are driving the development both of new products and of the way Volvo serves its customers and the community. In most Race Villages, there will be brand value seminars that describe how Volvo is working to be one of the leaders in safety and environmental care.
For guests who would like a next-to-real experience from the Volvo Ocean Race, there is the Volvo Ocean Race Experience Dome. The show presents the power of sound, light and films in an extreme combination for some eight breathtaking minutes. Anyone whose appetite has been whetted by the Dome can also take part in The Ride that simulates life on board a Volvo Open 70.
The Ride is a simulator that gives guests a ‘Life at the Extreme' sailing experience (for three minutes). Wind, waves, movement and the sound of the roaring sea accompany the film.
Marine theme as well
Guests can pit their strength against the Volvo Ocean Race Grinder. The grinder replicates the type of winch action associated with tacking, gybing and hoisting a sail. The resistance is relatively light at the beginning, but, as you continue, the grinding becomes progressively more difficult.
There will also be opportunities to meet the real sailors in the public Q&A session, where invited guests will have a chance to get close up and put questions to the skippers, navigators, crew and shore crew.
At most stopovers, the power and performance of the Volvo Open 70 can be seen up close. Building on the enormous success of the in-port races in 2005-06, the spectacle of fleet racing is being repeated in this race. After the in-port race, a public prize-giving ceremony is held on the Race Village Stage or at the Volvo Pavilion.
The day after the in-port race, the pro-am race is held. The pro-am races give Volvo Cars the opportunity to take selected corporate guests on board the Volvo Open 70s.
At some stopovers, guests who want to stay dry but still sail have the opportunity to try the blokarts, a kind of ice yacht on wheels.
To sail is necessary
There will be no lack of sailing activities at the stopovers. The Volvo Ocean Race Extreme 40 is a 40-foot catamaran designed to set the standard for exciting inshore sailing. Specially invited VIP corporate guests will be given a unique Volvo Ocean Race ‘extreme' experience.
During the summer of 2008, the Nordic countries organised Volvo City Sailing, a local competition with clear connections to the Volvo Ocean Race.
This time around, Volvo Cars has a stronger business focus in association with the race than ever before. Many markets will time the launch of the Volvo XC60 to coincide with the Volvo Ocean Race stopover in their market. Spain, for example, has its local test drives in Alicante in conjunction with
the race start. Singapore and South Africa are other markets that will launch the Volvo XC60 while the race is in town.
Volvo City Safety can brake the car
Apart from launching the latest model, this is a great way to show the entire model range. In many places, it will be possible to book test drives, together with demonstrations of Volvo Cars' latest world-first as standard safety innovation, City Safety. A system that makes the car brake by itself if needed.
Most syndicates and sponsors have been offered the chance to lease Volvo cars at a very competitive rate. During the race, a commercial campaign will be launched highlighting the parallels between Volvo Cars and the Volvo Ocean Race, including the theme of ‘Safety sets you free'. It will be run in all media: as TV commercials and printed ads in newspapers and magazines.
For every race, there is a Volvo Ocean Race edition of cars. This year's edition is available for the Volvo XC90, Volvo XC70 and V70. These cars come in either Ocean Blue or Electric Silver, with interiors full of details that are inspired by the race. Sales of the Volvo Ocean Race edition cars are expected to reach 8,500.
Seen, read and heard
The Volvo Ocean Race 2005-06 was broadcast to an audience of 1.8 billion viewers. The race was covered by the media in 192 countries and more than 17,500 articles were written at a combined media value of USD 86 billion.
The internal attention at Volvo Cars is tremendous. News about how the company is making use of therace is published regularly in all the internal news channels. In September 2008, the Volvo Ocean Days, a seminar and exhibition at which 3,000+ white-collars in Göteborg were able to obtain a deeper understanding of the race, were held. A similar exercise is being planned for blue-collar employees in Göteborg and the seminars will then be made into kits to be relayed around the Volvo world.
"It is important that the employees understand how the Volvo Ocean Race builds the brand and support sales and take pride in the enormous undertaking the Volvo Ocean Race represents. This means we have thousands of supportive ambassadors all over the world," says Karin Bäcklund, Volvo Ocean Race director at Volvo Cars.
Food for thought
Even the in-house canteens at Volvo Cars headquarters are taking part in the race. Exhibitions are being set up and the chefs plan to serve food from each stopover country while the boats are there - a fairly extensive trip around the cuisines of the world: Spain, South Africa, India, Singapore, China, Brazil, the USA, Ireland, Sweden and Russia.
Employees will also be able to follow the race through Virtual Spectator. In addition, there is a competition, a Virtual Regatta, with a Volvo league and one league open to the public. Participants can sail a virtual boat through the race and compete against the real Volvo Open 70s and the other virtual yachts.
"I want all the employees to understand the opportunities the race provides to strengthen the Volvo brand and to build relations with old and new customers alike," says Karin Bäcklund.
This is the tenth race since the start and the third under the Volvo flag. The Volvo Ocean Race is now so well established that professional sailors talk about doing ‘the Volvo'.
Gerry Keaney, Senior Vice President, Marketing & Sales at Volvo Car Corporation, sees a great interest from all markets:
"This year we have added new stopover countries to the race: Russia, China , India and Singapore. This gives us an excellent opportunity to strengthen our brand and to build relations with old and new customers in these markets. During this race I count on more attention than ever before, both from media and from the general public."
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