Van Damme clip adds ‘epic’ value to Volvo

An ad series by Volvo, which included Jean Claude Van Damme performing a set of "epic splits" while balanced on two reversing trucks, has proved a whirlwind commercial success for the Swedish company.

Van Damme clip adds 'epic' value to Volvo
Jean-Claude Van Damme performs his 'epic split' between two Volvo trucks. Screenshot: YouTube
The set of six videos, which cost between 20-30 million kronor ($3-4.7 million) to produce, raked in an estimated 1.1 billion kronor ($170 million), reported the Dagens Industri newspaper on Tuesday.
Since the Van Damme advert was released in mid-November last year, it has been viewed almost 70 million times on YouTube, and has already been ranked as the most watched automotive commercial on YouTube ever.
See Van Damme in action:


"If we look at the total effect, our media value is clearly bigger than the 1.1 billion kronor we pulled in," Per Nilsson, head of media relations for Volvo Trucks, told the Dagens Industri newspaper. "We haven't counted the copies on YouTube, for example."
Indeed, since the Belgian action hero stretched his legs to the haunting sounds of Enya, parodies have flooded in from around the world. One saw the mayor of Höganäs, a small Swedish coastal town, performing his own version of the stunt on two utility vehicles. Others saw Italian grocers on three-wheel vegetable cars and even ice skaters reversing on ice.
See the mayor's own splits:
Other ads in Volvo Trucks' series saw a hamster driving a truck up a hill and the president of the company standing on a dangling truck over the waters of Gothenburg.

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Sweden’s Volvo regains strength after pandemic puts brakes on earnings

Swedish truck maker Volvo Group was hit by a sharp drop in earnings due to the coronavirus pandemic, but business rebounded at the end of the year.

Sweden's Volvo regains strength after pandemic puts brakes on earnings
Volvo Group CEO Martin Lundstedt. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

In 2020, the group saw “dramatic fluctuations in demand” due to the Covid-19 pandemic, chief executive Martin Lundstedt said in a statement.

For 2021, Volvo raised its sales forecasts in its trucks division – its core business – in Europe, North America and Brazil.

However, it said it also expected “production disturbances and increased costs” due to a “strained” supply chain, noting a global shortage of semiconductors across industries.

The truck making sector is particularly sensitive to the global economic situation and is usually hard hit during crises.

In March, as the pandemic took hold around the world, Volvo suspended operations at most of its sites in 18 countries and halted production at Renault Trucks, which it owns, in Belgium and France.

Operations gradually resumed mid-year, but not enough to compensate for the drop in earnings.

With annual sales down 22 percent to 338 billion kronor (33.4 billion euros, $40 billion), the group posted a 46 percent plunge in net profit to 19.3 billion kronor (1.9 billion euros).

Operating margin fell from 11.5 to 8.1 percent.

However, the group did manage to cut costs by 20 percent.

“We have significantly improved our volume and cost flexibility, which were crucial factors behind our earnings resilience in 2020,” the group said.

Volvo's business regained strength in the second half of the year.

“Customer usage of trucks and machines increased when the Covid-19 restrictions were eased during the summer and this development continued during both the third and fourth quarters,” it said.

“Both the transport activity and the construction business are back at levels on par with the prior year in most markets.”

For the fourth quarter alone, the company reported a 38-percent rise in net profit from a year earlier.