Volvo's spoof within a spoof for the S40- Mystery of Dalarö.

A new Volvo ad , a "documentary" (rather, a mockumentary), tells about the "mystery of Dalarö" where 32 families bought the same model car, a Volvo S40, on the very same day. The mocumentary ad can be viewed here, and in cinemas in the UK.

Now the site of Carlos Soto, the "director" of the mocumentary has a film where Carlos questions the authenticity of the Dalarö-mystery.

"I have posted a personal edit of the footage here. I point out inconsistencies that occurred to me while reviewing the footage, and show an accurate and impartial view of what I saw. The original edit tells what I thought was a genuine story, that I no longer do."

The kicker is, there is no Carlos Soto............

Tim Ellis, global director of advertising at Volvo Cars, said: "Even though it comes off as quite serious, the story is actually very playful -- once you think you've got it, we offer one more layer to the communication to question that assumption."

The ads were created by MVBMS Fuel Europe, Amsterdam, and shot by Spike Jonze.

Simon Pride, European account director at the agency, said: "People are absolutely saturated with advertising these days and we need to find new ways to capture their imagination and get them involved with Volvo. The internet offers great opportunities to tell interesting stories about the brand, and to do so in more innovative and entertaining ways."

Their solution, a spoof within a spoof. I'm getting dizzy. ;)

Dalarö is a small island, as the name indicates (ö = island) near Stockholm, Sweden. We don't spell it "the mystery of Dalaro".

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Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
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blabla's picture

a quick search for the mystery of Dalaro returns links from all over Feb 18, Sniff Petrol makes an amusing post quotin "Bjorn Ulvaeus" (of ABBA fame), forums in holland are talking about it (maybe they found it at mediafact that TB's this?), stephen bell caught on march 02 and now it's even hit Metafilter fame. The carlos twist hasn't reached as many blogs it seems... But it looks like most people were initially asking themselves is this true so that reindeer gag was only noticed by you crazy Swedes.

Dabitch's picture

I guess y'all believe that thing about polar bears walking the streets of Stockholm too? ;) It was also posted by this finnish blogger named Max who spotted the mystery on Blogdex, it was also on Geenstijl and in the Netherlands early on...... Erik Stattins noticed it after the Swedish Tradepress Resume caught up with the news 03/03.

Dabitch's picture

well, it looks like it's still spreading. journal by Sheila Lennon blogged it, and in forums like they still debate weather the ad is fake or not despite a link straight to this article where the Mockumentary is called just that! So I guess people out there are more adnaive than I thought. Call me cynical, but I never thought anyone would fall for the original mockumentary.. What with the "reindeers in the winter" down by Stockholm and all...

kidsleepy's picture

i'm just going to go out on a limb and if i'm wrong i'm wrong, so be it:

this is the most self indulgently long-way-to-go-for-a-ham sandwich i have seen in a while.

a beautifully filmed, nicely written completely boring spot that says nothing about why i should buy volvo except for the fact that 'everyone else is doing it.'

and oh yeah, it didn't really happen. wink wink. get it? it's a mockumentary. as if anyone wold actually believe it were true, especially with the subtle way the logo and tag were incorporated into the uh, 'film.'

ths only thing worse than a bad ad written for the public is an ad written for other ad people.

Dabitch's picture

hehe, yeah who wants a car just because everyone else has the same one? I don't know what is more naive, thinking that the punters think paid-for commercial "documentaries" are real, or being a punter and believing a commercial "documentary" is real...I think this idea was turned on it's head one too many times.

/gets dizzy. falls over.

Andreas-Udd's picture

Hear Hear! Kidsleepy, you look wide awake from here.

deeped's picture

*mohahaha* I adored it. So nicely done - some Twin Peaks-feeling - mystery in the ordinary town of Sweden: normal people who behave strange, the feeling that there is something hiding behind the smiling faces.

And suddenly a old couple tells that there are a lot of reindeers at the road between Stockholm and Dalar

Dabitch's picture

I laughed out loud at the reindeeer part, such a giveaway that it's a complete hoax.
That film, as an entertaining cinema ad, is allright - the 'extra twist' with Carlos suspecting the obvious fake-mystery to be a fake-mystery is, well, duh, of course it's a fake mystery "Carlos"... That man who does not exist and who's domain is registered to a Paula on the Paulus Potterstraat 38, which also happnes to be the adresss of MVBMS Fuel Europe. I can't for the life of me figure out why or how they thought people would think that the Dalarö mystery is 'real', nor why if they really thought people were gonna fall for this - they didn't register the domain to a Carlos instead. I'm missing something. Maybe they just wanted to be entertaining.

Dabitch's picture

Maybe it just appeared in the wrong order, now if the Carlos thing had become a big viral from the start, it could have hyped the volvo ad..... which then is an obvious mockumentary. Yathink?

Neo's picture

Like a kinder-egg this campaign just keeps on giving, I think you guys are overanalyzing it. Nobody would think these are true mysteries, but people will find them amusing films, the Carlos site is a bonus! In crappy windows media format to ensure it's downloaded and spread through peoples email and friends. It's just icing on the cake! Although, it might have taken on a bigger life on it's own had the mystery of Carlos appeared first, maybe.Add to that, the Carlos film repeates Volvos selling points over and over. Brilliant. Who's with me?

deeped's picture

I wonder who that guy said to be Carlos is? Seem rather young to have done documentaries since -97 ;) ...

At the Carlos-site the film have time-code. Fun.

But define viral - this seem rather to open to be a true viralcampaign.

Dabitch's picture

Axe recently worked pretty hard on trying to kickstart a viral by making fake homepages, and hoping people would download their made-up users film - people will spend time downloading a film if it's good enough regardless. Look at Honda, a great film that became a great viral. I don't think that trying to hide the sender does anyone any good, as they're soon revealed anyway. definition viral: an internet-meme passed around and linked like nuts, usually a film or a flash game, can be commercial or non commercial, see the starwarskid or ford ka ad.

AnonymousCoward's picture

Absolutely true that people will download a video if it's good enough. But to get the attention of a critical mass to achieve a succesful viral campaign you need to think about HOW to reach this critical mass. Sending e-mails or posting in (viral) communities are just two possible methods. Axe tried another method in the Netherlands, ie they used a fake website. They partly failed because some people revealed the truth before Axe could reveal the story themself but on the other hand what is the big difference between this and posting a video in one of the communities (by using a fake name)? Even more, because it was revealed before Axe could reveal it themself the campaign got a lot of extra attention on various websites in the Netherlands. Good or not, they got the attention they wanted.

I would rather call this infiltration marketing than viral marketing but that's another discussion.

deeped's picture

definition viral: an internet-meme passed around and linked like nuts, usually a film or a flash game, can be commercial or non commercial, see the starwarskid or ford ka ad.

Only Internetish?

aiiobo's picture

This is a funny detail Carlos Soto ia a fish monger...... Go Fish!. Yummy, molluscs!

NeoBatman's picture

The idea might not that be that special but the execution is flawless. Pythonesque in it's funny, IMHO, YMMV.

AnonymousCoward's picture

Well I love it. I love the self-indulgence of it all. I love the effort they went to. I love most of all that they're expanding the format of tv commercials to nigh-on short film levels. I think it's a well made advert and it does its job well. It's clever and stylish, and those are qualities I like a lot in adverts. I think those who are over-analysing it are missing the intention. As the Carlos Soto video explicitly 'asks': "did Volvo really fabricate this story as part of an elaborate scheme to sell cars? Is this what it takes to get attention?"

Great stuff.

adlib's picture

very entertaining - thanks for keeping tabs on the spread of this volvo-dalarö mystery.

I've found these - explains the Mystery [PDF file], and the Volvo press release on the same site.
Campaign results
So far the marketing results for the Dalarö campaign are breaking records for Volvo across Europe. The Spanish market reported a seven-time increase in traffic to their dealer showrooms, and a ten-time increase in visits to their S40 web page. In the first week of the campaign, it generated five times more prospects interested in buying the vehicle than in six months since the launch of the car in Frankfurt.
In the U.K., one million people clicked to see the film trailers on the Yahoo portal in one day, and thousands of people ordered a DVD of the film offered on the web site, leaving their names and contacts for prospect follow up. In fact, one U.K. dealer reports that he can't even go to his golf club anymore without being badgered about this little town in Sweden.
In the Netherlands, the subject of whether the Dalarö mystery is real or fake was the longest thread of conversation on one of the largest chat sites in the country.
And in France, just a few pre-launch teasers led to minutes of DJ banter on a major national radio station.

From pure advertising industry standards, the campaign appears to be outperforming the norms as well. For example, the Internet advertisements have achieved as high as a 3.0% to 4.0% click-through rate, which is ten-times the industry average. One execution, an apparent message from Carlos Soto himself, achieved a 75% click through. This ad led people to the official Carlos site where he provides his own version of the mystery. And, many of those who did visit Carlos left him an interesting array of e-mails; some voiced support for his story, and some urged him to give Volvo a break, they're only a company trying to sell some cars.

I'd say it was a hopping success, people did debate if it was real or not, amazing. Now I don't know what was more entertaining - the ad(s) or the internetchatter. Good buzz.

blabla's picture

wow, those are some amazing numbers you've found adlib. a Seven time increase in potential buyers marching through the car-lots doors? a 75% click-through on Carlos site?

They called a regular "forum" (like the one adland sports) a "chat site" though. Chats - html based or IRC - are quite different from forums where the text becomes static once posted. Do'h.

deeped's picture

This behavior to say that virals is put in "chats" seem to be some journalistic-slash-companycommunicator misunderstanding. For some reason they probably thinks that is more effective and "cool" than at a forum (BBS-like). Or they don't get it. I have read it in a couple of articles about several other virals. Journalists seem to be unaware that putting things into a chat would not give the same effect at all.

They say we have the media we earn...