Since the time the Volvo Epic Split video featuring Van Damee was posted on November 13, it has garnered more than 40,402,785 million views on Youtube.
Anders Vilhelmsson, public relations manager for the Volvo Trucks brand says, ‘The stunt is real and is performed in one take. It is a daring stunt but we had full control, there was never any real danger involved. “
Van Damme was hooked to safety lines that are edited out from the film, and each foot was placed on a small platform that was built on the side mirrors of the trucks. The video director Andreas Nilsson says, “Van Damme’s feet aren’t fixed to the mirrors but we had him rigged so that if he did fall off, he wouldn’t die, for sure. We didn’t want to be responsible for killing The Muscles from Brussels.”
The Volvo ad was filmed in an air-strip called Ciudad Real, near to the south of Madrid. Just before the filming, the production team rehearsed the stunt for 3 days. Finally, they shot the ad in just 15 minutes, in one take from 8.05 am to 8.20 am. Nilsson is all praise for Van Damme and the team that executed the ad to perfection. He says, “The film you see is the first take. But we had done lots of rehearsals. The tension quite high, though. The drivers deserve the thumbs-up. I don’t know if you have tried to drive backwards with a truck but it is not the easiest of things. And to keep it in total control when spreading apart is super tough.”
Volvo wanted to highlight its dynamic steering model and perhaps there has never been a viral way and an immensely successful way of doing this, than showing the trucks going backwards with someone of the reputation of Jean-Claude Van Damme, standing on the side mirrors and doing a side split.
Why is the Volvo Epic Split, the best commercial and viral video of 2013
The best commercials have the tendency to leave us in admiration, awe and amazement- something that becomes a part of our memory. In a time and age, when attention spans are limited to fraction of seconds, this commercial gets it right. As soon as you watch, you want to do an encore, watch it right back again. A successful ad in the digital age is the one that goes viral, that makes us watch, get talking and sharing it on social media platforms. The ‘stickiness’ of commercials, how long we remember them them and associate them with the brand easily, is what makes it a success story.
Incidentally, this is not the only video from Volvo that has gone viral. A previous video called ‘The Ballerina Stunt’ was filmed with two trucks hurling at top speed towards a tunnel, with a woman crossing a slack-line before they hit the tunnel. This video also crossed more than 7 million views.
Volvo trucks will continue to release more stunt-based videos, Mr. Vilhelmsson adds, “We know the media landscape is changing. We have different media consumption habits today than a couple years ago. So that is why we invest in this cost-efficient way of reaching out to millions of people online.”
Van Damme Epic Split Ad for Volvo in Pictures