IRVINE, CA: Volvo, which for years has stressed safety, is adding a new message to PR efforts for a new version of its XC90 SUV: power.
The XC90 will be sold with a V8 engine in the US for the first time beginning next month.
The automaker has launched a major PR effort to tout the new engine, said Soren Johansson, PR manager.
"Thirty percent of SUVs are sold in the US with V8s. We haven't been able to compete for that piece of the market until now," Johansson explained.
A major auto writers' preview for V8-equipped XC90s was held in November in Arizona, attracting 120 journalists for test drives. PR efforts this month are centering on media relations efforts leveraging Volvo's decision to advertise in the Super Bowl for the first time.
Journalists at the Greater LA Auto Show Wednesday were given details of the ad. Volvo plans more media relations about it leading up to the February 6 game, Johansson said.
The car manufacturer is using Minneapolis-based Haberman & Associates to handle PR related to the Super Bowl ad. Haberman handles brand PR assignments for Volvo on a regular basis.
"We will be extremely front-loaded on marketing and PR in the first quarter," Johansson said. The V8 will be featured at the LA, Detroit, and Chicago auto shows this month and next.
Volvo won't be abandoning its traditional safety messaging. Rather, PR for the V8 XC90 will tell consumers that "now you get safety and a bit more power," Johansson said.
Volvo, which is owned by Ford, saw US sales rise 3.2% last year, its fifth record US sales year in the past six.
Its XC90, available in the US since 2003, had its best December in the US last month, selling 5,023 units.