Volvo, AOL Rev Up a New Deal

First, it launched its S60 sedan exclusively online. Now, Volvo Cars of North America, a subsidiary of the Swedish-based automaker, is again going online to promote a new product — this time, it’s the new XC90 sport-utility vehicle.

Volvo said it would team with AOL Time Warner’s America Online and its various brands in an interactive marketing relationship involving the XC90. Terms of the deal call for the XC90 to be featured in the “Autos” section of the AOL and CompuServe services, as well as in the Autos section of the Netscape Web-based portal. Consumers can get detailed information on not only the XC90 through those online destinations, but the entire line of Volvo cars as well.

The Volvo XC90 is slated to hit showroom floors this November.

In addition, a new “My Volvo” area will be created by the automaker and the online giant. In this area, current and prospective Volvo owners can get information from the Volvo Owners’ Circle, access MyAOL and link to special AOL/Volvo co-branded promotions.

The deal definitely goes both ways, though. AOL gains promotional placements in the deal, as well, as the online firm’s “AOL Anywhere” initiative will be promoted in the My Volvo area. Specifically, the AOL Mobile Communicator, which lets users keep in touch with one another through email and instant messaging, will receive play via My Volvo. AOLbyPhone will also be promoted with Volvo products for a special sweepstakes offer.

Volvo has a rich history of advertising in the online realm. Just last week, the Swedish automaker turned to interactive TV, rich media and wireless ads in a marketing push during the NCAA “March Madness” basketball playoffs. Irvine, Calif.-based Volvo Cars of North America is running basketball-themed television spots that promote the Volvo S60 while encouraging visits to Volvo’s Web site. The ads pose questions — “So what do you think? Good offense or good defense?” — and ask viewers to weigh in at www.volvocars.com/questions.

The automaker also said it plans to run similarly themed ads across major Web portals and sports sites including AOL Time Warner’s America Online, Microsoft’s , Microsoft’s MSN, Yahoo and CBS Sportsline.com .

In 2001,Volvo launched the S60 in an online-only campaign involving AOL. It then promoted the S60 both online and offline in last year’s round of March Madness.

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