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Old 02-03-2005, 08:10   #1 (permalink)
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US:Volvo to send contest winner into space

Volvo to send contest winner into space

By Gail Kachadourian
Automotive News

Volvo's Super Bowl ad this Sunday will promote a contest giving away a trip into outer space.

The ad starts out showing a rocket launch, during which the rocket morphs into a Volvo XC90 SUV with a V-8 engine. A voice-over asks the question: "How powerful is it?" Then, viewers are taken into the capsule of the rocket, where there is an astronaut. When the astronaut removes his helmet, viewers see it's Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, who answers the voice-over by saying "powerful enough to take you into space."

The spot then directs viewers to visit boldlygo.com, where they can enter to win a trip with Branson's Virgin Galactic to go into outer space. Virgin Galactic is expected to offer its first commercial flight into space within the next three years.

Volvo and Virgin Galactic will name the winner at the New York International Auto Show in March.

The space flight will cost Volvo $200,000, says Thomas Andersson, executive vice president of marketing for Volvo Cars of North America. The cost includes the flight and three days of pre-flight training.

Virgin has more than 14,000 people on a waiting list to take the trip, he says.

Web site visitors must answer simple questions about the XC90's V-8 engine to enter.

The spot is part of a campaign that continues the adventure theme of a contest Volvo ran in January, which gave away prizes such as a trip to Antarctica and a Grand Cayman submarine tour. That contest attracted more than 100,000 people to the Web site, of which 30,000 became entrants, Andersson says.

Volvo put a priority on keeping the details of this ad and the contest a secret - even from the dealers who attended the brand's make meeting at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in New Orleans over last weekend. Dealers at the make meeting previewed the pre-game ads before they aired last week, but they were not shown the Branson spot.

The XC90 with the V-8 engine, which goes on sale in the second quarter, is Volvo's first vehicle to have a V-8. Volvo projects 25 percent of its XC90 sales this year will be V-8 models. The automaker expects to sell about 40,000 XC90s this year.

Volvo in 2006 will eliminate the I-6 engine option from its XC90 lineup. It will continue to offer the I-5 and V-8 engines.
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