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?
"Almost two years ago, we started planning to honor our 75th anniversary by putting our values of conscience, care and character into action in a brand new way. We wanted to create something very special to commemorate such an important milestone for us - so we searched for a program that would touch real people everywhere, honoring the good they do for each other as a part of their daily lives.
"This was especially important to us in troubled times, when 'good' was becoming harder and harder to find in the corporate world and in the world-at-large. We knew we wanted to embody Volvo's human values of safety, quality and the environment in what we created and we wanted to do something truly inspiring for people all across America.
"We believed we had an opportunity to do more than just congratulate ourselves on 75 years of making cars. So we searched for something that would completely transcend the traditional bounds of corporate programs, focusing entirely on recognizing and rewarding real-life heroes.
"The result was the Volvo for Life Awards, a program which honors the everyday heroes among us, and which will make more than $1 million in financial contributions to winners and charities in its inaugural year."
What do you hope to accomplish with this program?
"The purpose of these awards is to discover heroes from across the nation, in communities large and small. Our heroes are people you read about in your local paper, hear about from your neighbors, or even see each morning at your breakfast table. We were seeking heroes who had done truly extraordinary things to help others, but had not received the national recognition they deserved.
"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, at least for a brief time, we can shift the dialogue of the nation 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."
How successful was the nomination process in the inaugural year?
"When we launched the Volvo for Life Awards at the Dec. 4, 2002, news conference in New York, we envisioned this as a small program, expecting perhaps 1,000 nominations from our Web site.
"But it seemed people were even more ready for the Volvo for Life Awards than we imagined. Through our grassroots publicity effort and word-of-mouth alone, we received 2,036 nominations representing every state in the nation.
"Each nominee is an inspiring and compelling person who in his or her unique way has dramatically improved a person's life or brought change to a community. We applaud everyone's efforts."
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 beings 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 submitted nominations of people who they think are heroes and to the distinguished panel of judges who selected the top three winners."
Tell us about your judges.
"Volvo is extremely honored to have this incredible group of individuals select the winners of our first-ever Volvo for Life Awards: Hank Aaron, Bill Bradley, Dr. Jane Goodall, Caroline Kennedy, Maya Lin, Paul Newman, Dr. Sally Ride and Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Our judges have given vast amounts of energy to public service and have made this world a better place with their unique talents. They demonstrate on a global scale the conscience, care and character of the heroes we have found and are celebrating on a local level."
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.
"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."
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Eric Davis, Haberman & Associates, 612-338-3900, email@example.com.
Sören Johansson, Volvo Cars of North America, 949-341-6719, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media: For photos and more information on the Volvo for Life Awards: www.volvocars-pr.com.
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