VOLVO FOR LIVE AWARDS
Q&A WITH VIC DOOLAN
President and Chief Executive Officer
Volvo Cars of North America
Why is Volvo Cars of North America spearheading this effort?
"There has never been a better time than now to celebrate the extraordinary efforts of everyday people. We live in an historic time in which unfortunate events have become the norm. The nation wants to be inspired by the heroic spirit of the ordinary people who are doing some good for their neighborhoods and communities.
"We think that Volvo is the ideal organization to undertake such an effort. We have the resources to do it. Plus, we have a 75-year-long reputation for being obsessed with safety, caring for the environment and having concern for the quality of life of others. We wanted to put the conscience, care and character of Volvo into action, while giving back to the communities and individuals who make the world a better place to live. To the best of our knowledge, we don't think another car company has ever tried to accomplish a task like this."
What do you hope to accomplish with this program?
"We hope that by elevating local heroes onto a national stage, we can inspire others to make outstanding contributions to their communities.
"We also hope that, at least for a brief time, we can shift the dialogue of the nation away from the scandals of corporate boardrooms and the uncertainty of world affairs to the ordinary people in our communities who truly do improve this world. If we can do these things, then we will consider this program a success.
"This is our primary public service initiative for the foreseeable future, and because of that, we are committed to making this program prosper in the coming years, both here and around the world."
How is this program different from other programs that honor heroes?
"Volvo's program is grassroots, encouraging people to nominate people they know. We want people to tell us who they view as being a hero. Also, the program seeks to inspire others to become heroes. By telling the stories of hundreds of heroes on our site, we want to encourage others to do outstanding acts, as well. Plus, acting with conscience, care and character is the soul of our brand. We want to recognize the people out there who do the same."
How does Volvo define a hero?
"Everyone has his or her own definition of a hero. To some, it's a national sports figure; to others, it's a parent or spouse or teacher. I define a hero as someone who acts with extraordinary care, conscience and character that in some way has a tremendous long-term, positive effect on his or her fellow human being and environment.
"What is special about the Volvo for Life Awards is that Volvo doesn't attempt to define a hero. We leave that to the thousands of people nationwide who will submit our nominations of people who they think are heroes. Then we'll leave it up to our panel of judges to select the winners."
Then what is Volvo's role?
"To provide the resources to elevate these heroes onto a national stage, with our launch in December, the Web site, our promotional efforts and the April awards ceremony at Times Square Studios. Throughout this program, Volvo is donating more than $500,000 in financial contributions to heroes and organizations."
How will you select the judges who determine the winners?
"We are looking for individuals whose own heroic efforts are known worldwide. Dr. Jane Goodall and Maya Lin reflect that description perfectly. We'll announce four more inspiring people in the weeks ahead."
How do you plan to promote this program?
"This first year of the Volvo for Life Awards will be a grassroots initiative, in which the information about this program spreads by word-of-mouth and in the media. There will be some limited online advertising, as well as information offered at various retail facilities, but otherwise it's up to one person telling another person and so forth. We think making this program organic reflects the grassroots manner in which our heroes act to make the world a better place."
What does Volvo hope to gain from this program?
"This program's purpose is to celebrate heroes. This program shows - rather than tells - our customers about the emotional side of Volvo. It shows that Volvo cares, and it shows why Volvo cares. We see this as a brand new way to communicate what Volvo stands for and to deepen people's understanding of our brand."
How involved is the company in this program?
"Volvo Cars of North America is energized about this program and many employees have had input on how it will operate. Volvo Car Corp. is enthusiastically looking at our first year to determine when it will become a global program.
"Locally, our U.S. retailers are promoting the Awards with posters and brochures, encouraging people to nominate. We're also inviting our North American retailers to tune into a closed circuit exclusive broadcast of the April 16 awards ceremony. And, if our retailers happen to be located near any of our 50 semi-finalists, we're encouraging them to conduct a 'local hero reception' for them that night as they view the broadcast."
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December 4, 2002
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