Volvo Pegs the Naughtymeter

By Charles Krome

A recent study in cultural anthropology sought to evaluate human behavior in five different European capitals to determine which city was the “naughtiest.”  The outcome was announced on July 28 and, unsurprisingly, the winner was Paris. More surprising: The whole thing was actually part of a Volvo marketing campaign.  For the full version of the lead photo in this story, click here.

Yep, those wacky Swedes are still at it.

In my very first piece for Autosavant, I took a look at how Volvo is trying to widen its appeal by developing unexpected marketing campaigns aimed at attracting new customers. In that story, I mentioned the automaker’s efforts to reach the much-coveted vampire segment through some nifty product placement work in the latest “Twilight” movie.

But until this news about Paris came out, the Volvo S60 “Naughty” campaign had somehow slipped my mind. Here’s a refresher: The all-new S60 is slated to debut globally later this year, including in the U.S., as the most dynamic car Volvo has ever produced.

Ticking off all the option boxes will be able to get you into a ride that delivers more than 300 horses and 324 lb-ft of torque, a sport-tuned chassis, an all-wheel-drive system retuned to help drivers “exploit the sporty new chassis to the limit,” a Geartronic six-speed autobox that allows for manual shifting, and Volvo’s Advanced Stability Control, which is “a great asset dynamic driving involving considerable lateral forces.” Per Volvo, that’s all good for a 0-100 km/h time of 6.5 seconds (that’s kilometers per hour for the metrically challenged; remember: wacky Swedes) and a top speed of 155 mph.

In other words, at least in the minds of the Volvo marketing team, the new S60 was designed to show off the automaker’s naughty side. Thus was born a full-on multimedia hurricane hyping the car as the Naughty Volvo. Of course, the storm didn’t make too many radar screens here in the U.S. And this being Volvo, “naughty” turned out to be a relative concept. In other words, the promo footage taken from the decadent S60 parties thrown in Europe has the requisite “girls kissing” scene, but it’s more of a brief smooch.

Oh, and for those who might be interested in the car itself, people were able to view videos of the S60 in action, then suggest ways to max out the naughtiness level. The results include such risque behavior as slaloming around stuffed wild mammals on a skid pad.

Now, the new S60 is a relatively nice-looking vehicle, and its spec sheet matches up pretty well against potential rivals like the BMW 335i xDrive or even an Audi S4. But I have to wonder if customers will be able to wrap their heads—and wallets—around the idea of a “naughty Volvo.”

What say you, my fellow Savants?

Author: Charles Krome

Charles Krome is a long-time automotive journalist who spent more than 10 years on the inside at General Motors and Ford, and also has corporate communications experience with Audi, Porsche and BASF Automotive Refinish. As a big motorsports fan growing up in the Detroit area, Krome was lucky enough to be able to attend numerous NASCAR, Indy car, F1 and SCCA events while still in his formative years. This, combined with a childhood that included significant (passenger) seat time in cars from Lotus and Jensen Healey, made him a car guy at an earlier age. Today, he lives in metro Detroit with his car wife, raising car kids.

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