Volvo’s Podcast Strategy

Saiesha Munuri
Marketing Editor

Volvo prioritizes podcasting in its marketing approach, and the results are promising.

Volvo takes advantage of audio media for marketing (Photo courtesy of Pexels)

On an all-electric future, Volvo Cars USA CEO Anders Gustafsson says, “everyone said we were stupid, and now everyone is there.” SXM Media and its media agency Mindshare teamed with Volvo to increase brand awareness across many of its qualities.  As a result, Volvo’s podcast advertisements enhanced brand affinity, raised the want to learn more, and increased the desire to promote the company to others. First, the alliance used the influential nature of the presenters of famous shows like Freakonomics, Ologies, and Hidden Brain and the natural narrative atmosphere. Through this effort, Volvo connected with a highly engaged audience by emphasizing brand themes such as safety, innovation, and sustainability.

“We’ve developed an authentic connection with our smart, data-driven listeners. We felt that Volvo’s commitment to safety, electrification, and sustainability would resonate with them,”  said Stephen Dubner, host of Freakonomics Radio. That is precisely what happened. According to Stitcher norms, the Volvo podcast advertising was remarkably remembered, exceeding Nielsen unaided and assisted recall norms. Moreover, these podcast listeners were curious about the campaign after hearing about it. It’s simple to see why, given that the top four ad descriptions are “natural,” “believable,” “interesting,” and “authentic.”

“We saw a unique opportunity to connect with highly engaged listeners and pique their curiosity about Volvo. At the same time, we wanted to provide inspiration to stimulate search interest. The results show that we’ve put Volvo top of mind for innovation, safety, and sustainability,” said Leigh Moynihan, Volvo Car USA’s head of marketing.

Volvo’s brand value is sustainability (Photo courtesy of Pexels)

Podcasting is one of the fastest-growing audio formats, with over half of the Americans listening to slightly over five podcast programs each week on average. Being tuned into the topics that listeners value is vital to success as marketers seek to reach out to these audiences through advertising and original content partnerships. While the Volvo campaign leveraged host voices to match listeners’ lifestyle preferences, emerging audience developments like transcription targeting can also provide contextual alignment. Transcription targeting utilizes voice-to-text technology to examine the episode’s broader context. This targeting, available through the SXM Media Podcast Network, allows companies to optimize scalability in times relevant to targeted consumers rather than broad lifestyle categories. Brand compatibility is further prioritized by the ability to reject undesired information at the episode level rather than needing to ignore whole lifestyle categories.

Today’s automotive marketers confront several hurdles, including balancing brand and retail marketing objectives in the ongoing supply chain crises. Podcasts create a space where a variety of messages may and do resonate. For example, while the Volvo campaign concentrated on brand qualities, it was highly effective with first-time car buyers. According to Nielsen, Volvo witnessed increases in brand recognition and purchase intent among those looking to buy or lease a new car in the next year, but not among all respondents. While inventory limits continue to affect creative messages, podcast advertisements may provide a full-funnel experience that helps companies stay relevant and stay on the minds of automobile purchasers.


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