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Promoting the PV

Back in the 40’s and 50’s it wasn’t very easy to promote a car: Europe was recovering from World War II, most people didn’t have a tv, there weren’t as much magazines as these days and of course: people didn’t have a lot of money to spend for a car. To sell cars you’ll need to promote them, and back in the good old days it was a real challenge.

Introducing the Volvo PV 444

Since Volvo mainly sold their cars within Sweden, Volvo didn’t really participate in autoshows and in the 30’s Volvo never participated in the major international car shows. But when World War II ended and the market needed to know about Volvo’s new cars and other products Volvo dediced to organise a big Volvo exhibition at the Royal Lawn Tennis Club (where King Gustaf V was training for tennis). In this hall many products were presented, but main reason for the exhibition was to introduce the Volvo PV 60 and PV 444 (see history of the Volvo PV). Another reason for this exhibition was to show to all Volvo-employees where Volvo was standing in the market and to reinforce the loyalty of the employees. But this reason wasn’t told to the public of course.

introduction Volvo PV 444 Royal tennis hall stockholm exhibition
The introduction of the 444 in Stockholm 

The exhibition was a big hit: 2.300 buyers sigend up for the Volvo PV 444, which costs SEK 4800 (which was the same price as Volvo’s first car in 1927, another nice marketing trick of Volvo).

Brochures and advertising

To get attention from potential buyers you’ll need to use ads in newspapers and magazines. Commercials on tv and radio weren’t very common back in the old days (most people didn’t have a tv) and the effects on these media weren’t very big. Ads in newspapers was the best way to promote your car.

Volvo PV 444 A, introduced at the end of 1946
Front of a Volvo 444 A sheet in 1946 

Another method to convince a potential buyer to actually buy a car was a nice brochure. For autoshows flyers could also be used but at the dealer a brochure was a must-have marketingtool. With a brochure the potential buyer can study the car at home and look at nice pictures of the cars. Of course special features and options are mentioned in these leaflets and all technical specifications are (of course) amazing. Seems nothing has been changed so far!

A special section which contains brochures, ads and flyers of the Volvo PV and Duett can be found here.

Free publicity

Another good way to promote a new car is free publicity: it doesn’t cost a car manufacturer a penny and it can have a huge effect on sales. Most newspapers and/or magazines (which aren’t a lot back in the 40’s and 50’s) are willing to publish an article about the new car. But what really can matter is a road test of the new car. Everything stands or falls with a review: if the review is (very) positive about the car, it will lead to more people coming to the dealer, but if the new car is being criticized the manufacturer might have a problem.

You can find an example of a Road & Track test here. Fortunately the PV 444 is reviewed very well, just like many other tests: most testers think the car drives very well and sporty and the build quality is excellent. Needless to say the dealers were very happy with that kind of reviews!

Direct marketing of the Volvo PV

In the early 50’s direct marketing wasn’t used a lot, and not at all by Volvo. But in 1952 there was a wind of change: just a couple of weeks before Christmas every 7-year-old Swedish child received a hard gift package. This package was send by Volvo and it included a nice 24-page children’s book, written by Kurt Frankman and illustrated by Nils Arild. But now comes the fun part: in those days children couldn’t read yet, so their parents should read it!

Volvo PV 444 book Frankman Arild direct marketing campaign
The cover of the book 

The book was about a small car (which was a Volvo PV) and was called “Ville Volvo vinner världen och prinssessan” (which means “Ville Volvo saves the world and marries the princess”). In this book Ville Volvo (the small PV) is going to save the King’s daughter Svea in a dangerous world. Of course it ends well (Ville saves the princess) and everyone is happy and refers to the small V on the hood (which is actually also fitted on the real 444s) saying that V stands for “Victory”.

Volvo PV 444 direct marketing kids book
The Ville Volvo book campaign was a big hit

The idea of this book came from the author (Kurt Frankman) and he presented the ideas to Volvo, including the part that children of that age couldn’t read and 126.138 potential buyers could be reached easily. Volvo liked it and the book was send to 126.138 children. This marketing campaign of Volvo was very successful: in 1953 the sales of cars in Sweden were increased a lot! Twice as many cars were sold.

One year later Volvo did the same trick, but now with an other book: a coloring-book for boys and girls. The book was called “Måla Volvo” (which means “Paint Volvo”) and was published by Wezäta. It contains black & white coloring pages which can be colored by children (or adults if they wanted to). These books are very rare nowadays (a real collectors-item) and they’re pretty expensive if founded in original condition. But in the 90’s the Volvo PV Club sold copies of both books (if you want the original: beware it’s not a late copy).

The Volvo PV Warranty program

In November 1954 Volvo introduced something new to beat other manufacturers: an unique warranty program (called the PV Warranty) which covers (in case of damage) all repair costs above the 200 Kronor which wasn’t compensated by any other party. The PV Warranty covers 5 years warranty and was a nice sales argument for the dealers. In the old days such insurances were very unique, while these days you’ll have to be insured to drive a car and if you have a new car such allrisk-insurances are fairly natural to have.

Volvo PV warranty advert
The advert of the PV Warranty which was used by Volvo in Motor (Sweden’s biggest car magazine) 

But not everyone was happy with the PV Warranty of Volvo: other car manufacturers tried to copy this warranty program but did cost them a lot of money, and insurance companies weren’t happy at all. They thought it was a illegal insurance operation and reported it to the police. Of course it wasn’t a illegal insurance, but the insurance companies couldn’t sell their services to PV-owners anymore. The insurance companies didn’t give up and started to take legal steps, including threatening Assar Gabriellson (managing director of Volvo) with imprisonment. In 1955 the Public Prosecutor’s Office (Göteborg) noted the PV warranty was legal, gives customers a benefit in a legal way and Volvo didn’t contravened the law on insurance practices. But still the insurance companies didn’t want to give up and in Spring 1957 the District Court rejected the case, the insurance companies appealed and took the case to the High Court in 1958, which declared in September that year: Volvo was allowed to sell this insurance program. This warranty program was a big hit and leads to Volvia (the insurance company of Volvo) later.


© Volvotips 2012 

Disclaimer: Volvotips has the exclusive courtesy of Volvo Car Corporation and Volvo Cars Heritage to publish the Volvo Greenbooks (service manual), parts catalogs, images and other Volvo-material and publications. Commercial use and publishing at other websites of these items is prohibited.

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