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Grey London Creates "The Swell" for the new Volvo XC60

Grey London has unveiled its first work for Volvo Car Group: a beautifully-shot, highly sensory film urging the viewer to ‘seek feeling’ – a dramatization of Volvo’s human-centric ethos.

The quietly epic film – a global TV campaign for Volvo’s existing XC60 model – is a shift in tone for the car manufacturer. Moving the brand into a more premium space, it introduces some of the pillars that will underpin its revamped brand positioning: ambition, simplicity, authenticity, Swedishness, and the same level of design quality and craft that goes into its cars. It represents a stylistic prologue to what is to come from the Volvo Kreativ Studio, including a high-profile, multi-faceted campaign for the launch of Volvo’s revolutionary flagship model XC90.

The film itself is about movement; about dynamism and intuitive response – the visceral, emotional experience of the Volvo XC60 brought to life. It begins in the passenger seat of the car –parked on an empty beach, radio quietly humming in the background, door left open, and a pair of shoes discarded in the footwell. Moving toward the water, the radio fades into the distance – drowned out by the sound of the ocean as we reach the shoreline…

“to feel
to really feel
is a rare thing these days”

…then out into the surf. Through the water, through the first tentative laps to the thundering crash of enormous waves, out into the darkness…until the water is still. Serene. A lone figure sits on her surfboard, her windswept silhouette visible only through the moonlight. Staring out toward the horizon, she’s waiting; a defiant look in her eyes.

And then it comes. The swell rises. A wave approaches, powerful and unstoppable. Adrenaline racing, we rise up. She rises up. Her arm takes one graceful, powerful swipe through the water as the wave is about to break…and then we cut. Against the black, we hear the earth-shaking thunder of the wave collapsing. The film ends with the line ‘Seek Feeling. The responsive XC60’.

Hollie Newton, Global Creative Director at Grey London, says: “The last thing the world needs is another overly-retouched car, hooning down a mountain road to a soft rock soundtrack. There's a defiant, slightly renegade Swedish spirit to Volvo that simply doesn't fit with the bland world of car advertising. And thank god for that. We have an enormous suite of work coming up for Volvo which challenges the conventions of the sector. This is the first. A quietly epic piece of film that, hopefully, makes you feel something.”

Marcus Söderlund, Director (and Swede), adds: “I am working my way through the four classical elements with Grey: last time it was a fire film, now water. The perspective in this film is pretty special; it´s not a first person perspective. The whole way through it’s the viewer’s film and view. Working in the element of water is fantastic – there is so much you just can´t predict or control. If you embrace that, you can get imagery you can’t even dream of.”

As very specific weather, moonlight and tidal conditions were required for the highly technical shoot, the time of year made shooting in Sweden impossible. Instead, the film was shot in Durban, South Africa. After looking at dozens of potential locations, Durban emerged as the only that could provide the essential quartet of good waves, high-quality levels of moonlight, shark nets and – most importantly – an area which closely resembled Swedish environments. Just as vital as the location was the casting – with 46 year old Cape Town resident and experienced surfer Lisette Forsyth eventually chosen. Not only was she at ease in the ocean and a passionate surfer, she had a beautifully graceful and serene look in the water.

The campaign is Global Creative Director Hollie Newton’s first for Grey since joining from Wieden + Kennedy last year, where she created Lurpak’s multi-award-winning Good Proper Food. It was directed by Gothenburg-born Marcus Söderlund through Academy. Print photography was from Gian Paul Lozza, best-known for capturing his subject using only ambient light. Allan “Willy” Wilson – famed for his surf films – was underwater DoP, while André Chémétoff – known for his beautiful, technical films such as Our Day Will Come by Romain Gavras and Jaron Albertin’s Sony Volcano – was DoP.

Credits:
Project name: The Swell
Client: Volvo: Tomás Caetano (Vice President Brand Marketing), Ingela D'Angelo, (Director, Marketing Communication), Magnus Brodd (Marketing Content Director), Anna Wirsen (Project Leader)
Agency: Grey London
Executive Creative Director: Nils Leonard
Global Creative Director: Hollie Newton
Creative Team: Hollie Newton / Jamie Starbuck / Howard Green
Managing Partner: Nick Dutton
Business Director: Camilla Ashenhurst
Account Manager: Mel Caplan
Agency producer: Harriette Larder
Creative producer: Glen McLeod
Planning Director: Matt Buttrick
Planner: Hayley Cannon
Production company: Academy Films
Director: Marcus Söderlund
Editor: Tom Lindsay @ Trim
Producer: Medb Riordan
Exec Producer: Lizie Gower
DOP: André Chémétoff / Allan “Willy” Wilson
Colourist: Aubrey Woodiwiss
Post-production: Yourick Van Impe (Flame) & Aubrey Woodiwiss (grade) @ Electric Theatre Collective
Audio post-production: Aaron Reynolds @ Wave
Photographer: Gian Paul Lozza