Volvo LifePaint is a reflective spray that, when applied to bikes and clothes, increases the visibility of cyclists to cars. It was created as part of a range of products produced by Grey (with others) to promote different aspects of Volvo’s cars and brand (in this case, its commitment to safety via its IntelliSafe system). But whereas some of the concepts – including Swedish Air, an inhaler that offered visitors to Volvo showrooms a lungful of fresh air – disappeared without trace, LifePaint captured the imagination of the press and the public and received wide coverage across the media.
But was it all it appeared to be? Various commentators criticised the ‘product’ as both a PR stunt, created simply to win awards, and as an example of an agency taking a product that already existed and then re-branding it. This latter complaint was based on the fact that Grey worked with Swedish reflective spray brand Albedo 100 to make the product, though the agency insists that LifePaint is subtly different to any of Albedo 100’s pre-existing products. “If I were a slightly cynical person I’d have to say that this looks a lot like Grey saw a Lion opportunity and did what many scamsters do: they retrofitted someone else’s brilliance onto one of their clients in order to spend a lot of time walking up to podiums at awards shows,” wrote advertising blogger Ben Kay at the time of LifePaint’s release.
CR documented the drama at the time, and spoke to Hollie Newton, then creative director at Grey, who admitted that while LifePaint was only available in a limited edition initially, following the overwhelmingly positive response to it, the agency and Volvo were working to release it on a wider scale. “We’re delighted with the public reaction to the project, and we want everyone who wants a can to get one,” she said. “We’re currently firing up the factory for the next 20,000 cans, which will arrive in the UK imminently.”
Well, this day has now come, with LifePaint having received an official Volvo spare part number and made publicly available via dealerships in the UK, Canada and New Zealand, with Denmark, Finland, Norway, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands and Thailand set to roll-out soon. It is on sale at the cost price of £9, so Volvo makes no profit from its sale.
To help PR its release Grey is also promoting its use as a fun way of lighting up your kids at night over Halloween. Volvo dealerships taking part can be found here.