IRVINE, Calif., March 3 /PRNewswire/ -- During this year's Super Bowl, Volvo Cars of North America introduced its new V8-powered Volvo XC90 SUV with an out of this world sweepstakes to win a flight to space. Since then, 135,000 aspiring astronauts have registered for the opportunity in what has also become Volvo's most successful integrated product launch in company history. On Feb. 6, during its first-ever Super Bowl advertisement, Volvo unveiled the Volvo XC90 V8 by comparing its power to a rocket blasting into space. Near the commercial's end, the ship's pilot revealed himself as billionaire entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, founder and chairman of The Virgin Group of Companies. Sir Richard's Virgin Galactic -- one of the world's first commercial space tourism operators -- plans to debut commercial space flight within the next two to three years. The end of the ad revealed Volvo was giving away a chance to win a seat on Virgin's forthcoming commercial passenger-carrying space flights by asking people to register at www.boldlygo.com through Feb. 22. Volvo supported the Boldlygo.com campaign with print, online and broadcast ads and public relations initiatives that continued through the registration deadline. During this time, the site generated 18 million hits and 1.9 million unique visitors. Of the 135,000 who signed up for the trip to outer space, 60,000 requested more information on Volvo products. Also, Volvo estimates the advertising equivalency for press coverage the sweepstakes received was more than double its original investment in the Super Bowl ad. "Our Volvo XC90 already is the best selling European luxury SUV in the United States," said Vic Doolan, president and chief executive officer for Volvo Cars of North America. "To launch the V8-version of the XC90, our most powerful Volvo, we chose a grand stage and a unique event. And, through today, we have received more than 1,000 pre-orders for the V8. A Super Bowl ad campaign is a costly undertaking, but with the right creative approach and integrated message the money is well spent -- as these results prove." Volvo is producing the Boldlygo.com campaign with its advertising agency of record, Euro RSCG Worldwide. Sweepstakes Winner Unveiled March 24 Volvo will unveil the sweepstakes winner Thursday, March 24 in a news conference at the New York International Auto Show. Sir Richard's Virgin Galactic (www.virgingalactic.com) officially begins operations this year and, subject to the necessary safety and regulatory approvals, plans to begin operating flights in 2007. Over five years Virgin expects to train around 3,000 astronauts -- including the sweepstakes winner -- and will reinvest revenues generated from the flights into a new generation of vehicles for further space ventures. The technology for Virgin Galactic's spacecraft will be modeled after the world's first privately funded, reusable space vehicle SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 won the Ansari X Prize by becoming the first privately funded, manned suborbital space flight. Taking off from a traditional runway, the spacecraft is powered into sub-orbit by a hybrid engine. During the flight, passengers experience weightlessness, view the stars above and see planet Earth below. On its return to Earth, the spacecraft morphs into a V-shaped "shuttlecock," enabling it to gently drift back through the atmosphere without overheating. It then morphs back into a conventional aircraft shape ready for landing. About Volvo Cars Volvo has been building cars for people with Safety in mind for over 75 years. The 2005 Volvo Cars model line-up includes: the award-winning new Volvo S40 and its wagon counterpart the all-new Volvo V50; the award-winning Volvo XC90; the sporty Volvo S60 sedan -- including the award-winning performance sedan -- S60 R and the performance wagon version -- V70 R; the flagship Volvo S80 luxury sedan; versatile Volvo V70 wagon and rugged Volvo XC70 (Cross Country); and, the Volvo C70 convertible.
SOURCE Volvo Cars of North America