Volvo’s commitment to road safety is legendary. Yet their innovations haven’t always been welcomed by drivers. Take the three-point seat belt – when it was introduced by Volvo 60 years ago, critics rubbished it as dangerous; some going so far as to say it was an abuse of human rights. It is astonishing to learn, then, that this humble invention, gifted to the world by Volvo, has saved more than a million lives.

Now Volvo has a raft of new safety measures to introduce to drivers, from in-car cameras that can monitor – with the potential to react to and even correct – driver behaviour, to care keys that allow car owners to limit speeds when they lend their vehicles to younger drivers. Our challenge was to showcase these new innovations while countering driver scepticism, using the example of the public’s initial misplaced hostility towards the seat belt as a reason to invite them to … think differently.

Our response: to challenge readers to consider how much personal freedom they are willing to forego to make roads safer using a bespoke four-page wrap of the Sunday Times Magazine, an innovative DPS in Style magazine, three premium digital articles and Insta polls.

Style DPS

Style and road safety measures are not, perhaps, natural bedfellows, but we took an innovative approach to introducing our fashion-focused readers to Volvo’s campaign. Fronted by stunning photography produced by Studio Pi, we sourced original seat belt material and a Volvo buckle to ‘dress’ our model – we argued that the most significant belt ever produced is, in fact, the seat belt.

Sunday Times cover wrap

For the cover of the wrap, we commissioned an eye-catching 3D graphic render of a seat belt spelling out Volvo’s achievement of having saved a million lives, and the carmaker’s commitment to saving a million more. The content introduced readers to Volvo’s story through immersive tales of the company’s history, interviews with road safety experts and crash survivors, as well as opinion pieces on Volvo’s newest innovations.

Digital articles / Insta polls

As well as telling the history of the seat belt and outlining Volvo’s safety goals, we wanted our digital content to challenge drivers to think differently about road safety and their own role in making roads safer. In one article, we simply focused on shocking statistics, such as the fact that one person dies on the world’s roads every 24 seconds. In another, in an unusual style for a Sunday broadsheet, we took a first-person women’s magazine approach to telling the story of a crash survivor, which highlighted the human cost of being hit and severely injured by a drink driver – behaviour that Volvo’s new in-car camera has the potential to address. Our polls reflected this more confrontational approach, again, asking drivers what were they prepared to accept to make the roads safer.