Did Volvo Fake A Documentary For Advertising Purposes?

from the clean-lines,-indeed... dept

Over in the UK, they're apparently playing a Volvo commercial that is a short documentary on the "mystery" of 32 different families in one small town all buying the same Volvo car on the same day. The filmmaker who was hired to make the film is now questioning the premise. Looking over the footage of the film, he claims that he was tricked, and that Volvo may have set up the whole thing. He noticed that they all seemed to use the same lines to describe what they liked about the car ("clean lines") and many didn't seem to know very much about these cars they had supposedly bought. The article about this, though, seems to wonder if the filmmaker's site is a hoax itself, as they were unable to find out any more info about the guy. Still, the site does include a lot of raw footage from the supposed documentary, which suggests it is real. It wouldn't be a huge surprise to hear that the documentary was faked, but it's interesting to see a director of a documentary post his own outtakes on the web to question the veracity of a film that he, himself, supposedly made. Update: Some good research being done by folks in the comment section, suggesting that this whole thing is a put on by Volvo...

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    thecaptain, 13 Feb 2004 @ 7:01am

    No Subject Given

    " It wouldn't be a huge surprise to hear that the documentary was faked, but it's interesting to see a director of a documentary post his own outtakes on the web to question the veracity of a film that he, himself, supposedly made."

    Well it certainly isn't a stretch to think that the documentary is "real" in the sense that the film maker was honest and doing a real documentary ...but that its "fake" in that the phenomenon behind the scenes was a set up by Volvo. Ie: They give 32 volvos, make it look like these families all bought the same car on the same day, then they hire a guy to make a documentary about the fact unknowing that it was all a setup.

    Personally, I'm won't be surprised or shocked that a BigCo stooped this low...but I WILL be disgusted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    aNonMooseCowherd, 13 Feb 2004 @ 7:23am

    the moral of the story

    From the adman's quote in the article, it sounds like their attitude is that there's nothing wrong with lying as long as it makes money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mike, 13 Feb 2004 @ 9:48am

    legal action?

    almost seems to be if Volvo really faked this guy out with a false premise for creating a "documentary" there could be some legal recorse. maybe the director is in on the whole thing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chris Maresca, 13 Feb 2004 @ 10:51am

    Watch his outtakes

    I watched the outtakes and I'm skeptical. There are a couple of issues in there and the website that make me think the WHOLE thing is a fake.

    1. Perfect narration
    It's like he had a script and his english is flawless (not just that he speaks well, but the idioms and grammer are perfect). Just to note, my SO has been speaking English since she was 10 and she can pass off as American, but she still has problems with idioms....

    2. Volvo font
    The video uses the Volvo font. Why? He could get sued for copyright infringement by Volvo, esp. if he is critical.

    3. Everyone speaks English
    Even with a lot of English speakers, this type of video would be done using translators, part. if it's for research.

    4. Very well put together, all video
    I know this guy is a filmmaker, but still, this took a LOT of time to do, and it was ALL done on film (no writeups or stills or webpages).

    Finally there is the website. It's very well put together, and the way the video is done, it suggests that who ever did it knew a little something about building a website. Also, the site seems to have HUGE amounts of bandwidth, which is not cheap.

    Given all this, there are some wierd things. First, the guy uses a ... Hotmail address???? Also, there is little content about anything other than the Volvo project. I somehow doubt that Volvo/Ford would choose some random Venezuelan (presumably, you can't tell from the site) D-grade film maker to make a market research or PR film. Nowhere on his 'bio' does it show that he's ever done corporate/pr/marketing/research work.

    Finally, what happened to the rest of the market research team. There's only one guy, and he's unsure of the numbers, there's no effort to identify his role, etc.

    Lastly, my SO went to Columbia School of Journalism and I saw a lot of the videos that were made as part of graduate projects. The edits in the Volvo video piece were of far better quality than her fellow grads (they were professional), but there was almost non of the contextualization and source identification that typically accompanies this sort of a piece (which was present in all the Colombia stuff I saw, and in all journalism pieces). Everyone was referred to as 'an elderly couple', 'this guy', etc. Even the authoritative figure in the piece, quoting stats, was not identified. Presumably all these people had agreed to be on camera and signed release forms, why not name them (or at least give them pseudonymes, like Mrs. P).

    Definetly propaganda.

    Chris.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      sykes, 2 Mar 2004 @ 4:45am

      Re: Watch his outtakes

      hmm, i think some1 has too much time on their hands!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      sursar.jouglet, 16 Apr 2004 @ 4:51pm

      Re: Watch his outtakes


      i found a very funny way to advertise a car and i never asked myself if it was true or not
      do you really believe in what is presented to you as truth on tv internet news??
      political propaganda is a far more important issue as to know if volvo use something creative and innovative to sell cars


      for information sweden receive film and series from other country and don t dubb it but subtitle
      it make a nation with a lot of english speaking people

      now do you analyse as much all the adds for chevrolet miller lite or doritos??
      do you try find out when you by food if it s from a genetically modified or hormone injected line of production
      do you question the information and documentaries played by your tv channel administration and government

      don t take all that personnaly
      you have an interesting and articulate analyse of the volvo "mockumentary"
      i really wish you apply the same sharp mind to things that have far more unclear intentions

      best regards
      sursar

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Cowardly Anonymous, 13 Feb 2004 @ 11:30am

    Volvo? I think so.

    A "WHOIS" on the domain turns up administrative and technical contacts at domainnetwork.se. That domain now redirects to cogentipc.se. On the Cogent Clients page is "Volvo Car Corporation".

    Coincidence? I think not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael Armstrong, 13 Feb 2004 @ 2:11pm

    Another observation...

    Remember when the movie Blair Witch Project came out? How all the marketing was spun like it was an actual documentary. Supposedly the footage had been found after the college-age filmmakers had disappeared. It all turned out to be a (brilliant, IMHO) marketing ploy and that the kids weren't dead. Even the town, the legend, the interviews weren't real.

    This Volvo documentary/advertisment smacks of exactly that sort of spin. Essentially taking cues from BWM (commercials done like mini-films) and Blair Witch (gonzo marketing).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2004 @ 3:04pm

    Mockumentary

    I've read in other ad-blogs and ad publications that it's a "mockumentary" put out by Volvo. Zing!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Feb 2004 @ 5:38pm

    Carlos does not exist.

    It's fake fake and then fake again with a twist. Carlos does not exist, the WHOIS now reveals the advertising agencies adress - and here AdLand - Volvo spoof within a spoof the whole thing is blown wide open.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Feb 2004 @ 6:05am

      Re: Carlos does not exist.

      Theres a fishmonger named Carlos Soto........... But no documentary director named Carlos Soto. Y'all nearly fell for it!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    J. Macintyre, 23 Jun 2004 @ 5:29pm

    volvo ad

    It seems Volvo faked the ad in the same way they have been faking the fact they cannot make good cars. Our Volvo (V70 2.4T) must be the worst car we have ever purchased - if you are thinking of buying one then don't.
    Volvo seems to think it is acceptable to both be rude about their clients and fake adverts and then expect people to trust them when they say their cars are well made. How do people know this is not faked as well

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Copying Is Not Theft
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.