Jason Diakité ponders his solitude on Malmö's Ribersborgs beach. Source: Screen grab from Volvo ad
The film — which features hockey legend Börje Salming, rapper Timbuktu and high jumper Emma Green in various mournful poses — stretches to more than four minutes of artistically shot Scandi scenes, all set to an echoey, Nordic soundtrack sung by Amanda Bergman.
Salming, the first Swedish hockey player to go international and play in the US, is shown putting a log into a wood burner, his deeply lined face lit only by the firelight. Timbuktu (real name Jason Diakité) trudges in the early morning along Malmö’s Ribersborgs beach, an overcoat and Persian lambskin hat shielding him from the drizzle.
"This is a tribute to Sweden at its toughest," reads the advertising copy. "A thank you to the cold, darkness, wind and rain. Because without our harsh Swedish conditions we would never have made the cars we do."
The scenes are intercut with shots of Bergmanesque Swedishness — the corn rustling in the wind, aerial shots of remote snow-clad Lapland wilderness, the West coast fishing fleet skimming over the grey waters — much of it shot in near darkness.
Eva Ossiansson, a branding expert at the University of Gothenburg told Göteborgs-Posten that she found the film "incredibly beautiful, sensual and very Swedish."
“They have dared to break the traditional pattern. The film is like no other car commercial,” she told DN newspaper. “I think that is absolutely right, at a time when we are awash with 3,000 commercial messages a day.”
Also, with the first exports of made-in-China Volvo cars beginning this year, the company’s Chinese owners Geely clearly feel the need to remind people of where the brand comes from.
The last Made by Sweden advert, featuring the footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic — got more than five million hits on YouTube, while a 2013 advert featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme doing the splits between two Volvo Trucks was seen by some 77m people.