That one time Volvo risked the life of a copywriter to create some damn good advertising.

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David Abbott was one hell of a copywriter and creative director that once put his life on the line to sell a Volvo.

The ad was bloody brilliant, featuring a photograph of a cherry red Volvo 740 hanging suspended above a gray-haired gent in a suit lying on his back.

The gent was of course Abbott.

Looking at the photograph elicits complicated feelings of both anxiety and awe — feelings I’m not for certain were intentional by the creative team but without a doubt are effective.

At first glance, our eyes are drawn to the floating Volvo in the air. Then, as if a jaguar has taken hold of them, we’re forced to drag our gaze down the page to a calm David Abbott lying underneath this hulking mass of steel.

And, finally, we end up exactly where Abbott wants us to, on his headline that reads…

If the welding isn’t strong enough, the car will fall on the writer.

Now that Abbott has captured our attention and piqued our interest, he’s letting the copy in his ad work up a level of desire in us that makes it difficult not to pull out our wallets, grab a loudspeaker and tell him to get the hell out from under the car.

(Side note: Abbott is using an infamous advertising formula called “AIDA”, I talk more about it here).

He starts making his pitch to us…

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“That’s me, lying rather nervously under the new Volvo 740. For years I’ve been writing in advertisements that each spot weld in a Volvo is strong enough to support the weight of the entire car. Someone decided I should put my money where my mouth is.”

Abbott riffs a little more and finally ends with a line that makes it nearly impossible for us not to take action…

It’s so well built you can bet your life on it. I know. I just did.

David Abbott’s Volvo Ad is a splendid piece of advertising that serves as a reminder to advertisers, marketers and entrepreneurs alike that sometimes it’s not enough to tell the world about a feature… that sometimes, you have to show them.

But, I digress.

By Cole Schafer.

Stranger than fiction by Honey Copy is a curation of stories about bat shit crazy marketing ideas that have made brands some serious cheddar. If this story made your mouth water, why not let me tell you when I write the next one?

Written by

I write pretty words and sometimes sell things.

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