‘The Epic Split’ and the Power of Brand Building

It has been 10 years since Volvo Trucks launched the advertisement that would go down in history as one of the most memorable and innovative marketing campaigns ever: "The Epic Split, featuring Jean-Claude van Damme." We have had the opportunity to meet one of the individuals behind this masterpiece, Jonas Ydkvist, former Strategic Marketing Communications Manager at Volvo Trucks. Together, we took a walk down memory lane and discussed impactful marketing.

– Based on the impact achieved with “The Epic-Split,” it remains my primary source of inspiration every day at work, and simultaneously the most credible, say Jonas Ydkvist, now the CEO of Consid’s award-winning brand agency, Paradigm, emphasizes that being part of and experiencing how insight-driven and sustainable brand work yields results leaves no alternatives for those aspiring to success.

Ten years ago, Jonas Ydkvist held the position of Strategic Marketing Communications Manager at Volvo Trucks when the company took the world by storm in 2013 with “The Epic Split, featuring Jean-Claude van Damme.” This advertisement is now recognized as one of the most memorable and innovative in the realm of marketing.

Jean-Claude van Damme, poised and determined, balanced on the wing mirrors of two trucks, ready to perform “the most epic of splits” as the trucks moved backward. The objective was to showcase the trucks’ ultimate precision and stability.

– The common thread in everything we did was, today, a somewhat worn-out expression: Innovation. It was in that spirit that all manifestations within the ‘Live Test Series’ emerged. In-depth insight work, open and generous teamwork, and a commitment to creating innovative communication, explains Jonas Ydkvist.

During the “Live Test Series,” Volvo Trucks launched several creative and groundbreaking commercials where trucks underwent various extreme tests of relevant product features in a live environment where the outcome could not be guaranteed. Despite several other grand films, “The Epic-Split” has endured, and Jonas Ydkvist provides insight into why:

– Because it leaves no one untouched. It speaks to the broad masses and is relevant to Volvo’s core audience. It is a portrayal that exudes quality, confidence, and a twinkle in the eye. It is a production that is perfected, from the dramaturgy in camera movements and lighting, music, the ingenious script, to the suspense in execution. Then, of course, it goes completely beyond what is expected.

Jonas Ydkvist has continued his career in marketing and is now the CEO of Paradigm, Consid’s award-winning brand agency. He highlights how, due to ignorance, many companies still overlook the power and value of strong brand building, often based on the belief that customers are entirely rational decision-makers, especially in B2B. He argues instead that the brand question is more critical in B2B than in B2C because the risks in professional decisions are higher.

– You risk the company’s money, your reputation, and ultimately your job if you make the wrong decision in B2B. It becomes emotional, of course. That’s why you look for actors you can trust and feel secure with. Although ‘Epic Split’ may not have built immediate trust, it drew strength from an innovative capability in our new truck, and it evoked positive emotions. Enough for our key target audience to be curious to explore the offer further. A recipe that, when executed correctly, remains a success even 10 years later, and something we at Paradigm work hard to help more clients experience, says Jonas Ydkvist.

Jonas Ydkvist, ceo Paradigm
Jonas Ydkvist, ceo Paradigm

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