Vamps and Volvos

Slate's Culture Blog
Nov. 10 2009 12:50 PM

Vamps and Volvos

The Twilight Saga: New Moon opens nationwide one week from Friday. The attendant hype machine is already in overdrive. Among its more curious offshoots: a promotional tie-in with automaker Volvo. The marketing effort includes product placement (lead vamp Edward Cullen drives a Volvo XC60 in the film), a contest (to win an XC60 just like Edward's), a Web site ( ), and a Twilight -themed Volvo television ad .

When I first saw this ad, two questions sprung immediately to mind: 1) Aren't 'tween girls the core audience for the Twilight series? A 'tween can't obtain a driver's license, never mind afford a relatively pricey set of wheels like a Volvo. 2) Aren't vampires basically immortal? Volvo's central brand attribute is safety, which makes it an odd choice for a driver who can't die. Shouldn't Edward be tooling around in something delightfully risky, like a two-seater convertible without a roll bar? Or a vintage Pinto?

According to Volvo national advertising manager Linda Gangeri, the relationship with the Twilight series happened partly by accident. Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight books , made Edward a Volvo driver before there was any financial benefit to doing so. When the first Twilight film came out, Volvo execs were shocked to see how much screen time Edward's Volvo received—a full four minutes, which is a lifetime in the world of product placement. The first film's huge success made it imperative for Volvo to get involved with the sequel.

Gangeri claims that while 'tweens can't drive or buy cars, they have significant input into their parents' car-buying decisions. Also, she argues that Twilight in fact appeals to female fans of all ages—including "Twi-moms." Gangeri says that Volvo as a brand skews slightly female, and the partnership with the film is an effective way to get visuals of the XC60 in front of female moviegoers.

As for Edward the vampire, it turns out he drives a Volvo not for himself but to safeguard human friends who ride in the passenger seats. So his character is nurturing and protective, yet also sleek and sexy. Those are exactly the qualities that Volvo hopes consumers will associate with its cars.


Seth Stevenson is a frequent contributor to Slate. He is the author of Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World.



Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

Surprise! The Women Hired to Fix the NFL Think the NFL Is Just Great.

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Altered State
Sept. 17 2014 11:51 PM The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
Dear Prudence
Sept. 18 2014 6:00 AM All Shook Up My 11-year-old has been exploring herself with my “back massager.” Should I stop her?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 8:25 PM A New Song and Music Video From Angel Olsen, Indie’s Next Big Thing
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 9:00 PM Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 18 2014 7:30 AM Red and Green Ghosts Haunt the Stormy Night
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?