Carmaker ups investment in franchise after much success

Volvo has quickly become one of “Twilight’s” biggest Twihards.

The Swedish automaker, now owned by China’s Geely, has stepped up its presence around “Eclipse,” the third installment of Summit Entertainment’s franchise, ponying up marketing dollars to launch an ad campaign that touts “Lost in Forks,” an online game it created to promote its new XC60 SUV.

It’s the company’s most expensive campaign to date to promote its tie-in with the films, and continues Volvo’s mostly online push that launched with “New Moon,” and asked auds to “Come and See What Drives Edward.”

In the online game, players navigate the forests of Forks behind the wheel of the SUV as they make their way to the Cullen house.

The SUV is also being given away by Burger King as part of the chain’s own “Twilight” tie-in and gives the vehicle a shout-out in its ads.

The exposure reps the latest case study of why consumer brands are increasingly embracing promotional partnerships with Hollywood.

Compared to its rivals, Volvo has long had one of the smallest marketing budgets in the biz, which has forced it to become a little more creative.

When Volvo was about to launch its C30 in 2008, International Promotions, Volvo’s entertainment marketing agency in Los Angeles, considered “Twilight” a perfect opportunity to introduce the sporty hatchback to younger consumers.

“With the first film, there was no advertising budget for the C30 so when Volvo received a spike in sales, they realized it correlated with the release of the ‘Twilight’ movie and, later, the DVD,” says International Promotions’ president Linda Swick.

“Volvo received millions of impressions. There was increased consumer traffic through domestic and international dealerships as well.”

The placement made sense because author Stephenie Meyer included Volvo in the books, thanks to the advice of her brothers.

“The ‘Twilight’ franchise was Volvo’s opportunity to market to a younger demographic and create brand recognition with cool, hip stars,” says Swick.

“Additionally, they were able to reach their target audience as mothers became hooked on the books and movies as well.”

The new XC60 doesn’t receive a ton of onscreen exposure in “Eclipse” — essentially, just 65 seconds. But that adds up to a lot more with the additional marketing materials that span print, TV, the Internet and restaurants that promote the brand’s tie-in.

Either way, Volvo isn’t looking to give up its involvement with “Twilight” anytime soon.

“Volvo is very interested in continuing their relationship with the franchise,” Swick says, “though nothing has been determined yet.”

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