Volvo, over the years, has done a solid job of keeping their brand on-trend with where their target market’s minds are at. And that tradition continues with their latest global ad campaign for the Volvo V90.

The stunningly shot, nearly 3-minute long, mini-movie channels the soothing zen-mind of rockstar philosopher Alan Watts, who has ironically become somewhat of a favourite for marketers to use as a voiceover artist. You will remember that last year, South Africa retail bank ABSA did a rather questionable job by employing  a similar tactic to advertise something that they sell.

Unlike ABSA, our personal opinion is that Volvo does a far better job of integrating Mr Watts’ deeply spiritual ideology into its commercial, but overall – we just can’t help being amused about the irony of using this kind of anti-consumerist message to blatantly promote consumerism.

You see – in an increasingly secular western world, the reassuringly spiritual perspective of Alan Watts (who died in 1973) has become something of a much needed antidote to the lunacy of the non-human demands of neoliberal economics and the troubling results of hyper-capitalism. The madness of our over-mechanised and highly competitive societies is soothed in a small way by his stoic guidance of non-attachment to material possessions – teaching valuable lessons in mindfulness and self mastery.

So as rad, and as ‘current’ as what Alan Watts is – it’s a blurred line as to whether using him to sell a vehicle is a clever idea, which in South Africa will cost probably close to R700 000 when it is launched this year. To afford it, you’re going to have to be a very good negotiator of the rat race indeed.

Paradoxically though – we do love Volvo as a brand, the ad itself is simply beautiful and journeying through life in a R700k Volvo V90 would be a fabulous thing, however the deeper message here is a reminder that, as lovely as this vehicle is…it really is not necessary in the greater scheme of things. You can play and be happy in far cheaper Renault Duster too – or just use Uber.

But perhaps we’re overthinking it all. It’s just a car ad after all and it’s almost certain that most people are not going to worry too much about this ontological clash.

If you are interested – here’s a longer, more contextualised, version of the lecture the voiceover was taken from ‘Why your life is not a journey’:

via Die Skim