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Jan Sidemo: the Story is the key

Jan Sidemo, Senior Director Global Events at Volvo Car Group, believes that an engaging story for an event audience is much more valuable than the technical innovations and wow-effects that may not contribute in telling the main story. The technology is there to convey the story. Never for its own sake.


- Huge brands with a variety of products and, accordingly, different target audiences always have a lot of events of different scales and formats. Do you organize all of them by means of the Global Event Department recourses or do you invite outsourcing agencies for some projects?

Our Global Events team consists of experts in most areas of events. Therefore we plan and execute most parts of our events by ourselves.

However on a global basis we also work with agencies in the creative phase and in very large global productions. In our markets our sales companies use our network agencies for local events.


- Tell us about your team - how many of you work in Global Events now, what are the main values in the team, what are the requirements for the events you plan and organize?

Our team consists of 60 people split into 5 teams. Conceptual Development & Project Management; Consumer Engagement, Event & Exhibition Services; Production & Storage; Car Management.

All our events should support our Company Purpose and our Business Strategy. We strive to talk with one voice by integrating events with our campaigns and Corporate Communication activities. When planning events we pay a lot of attention to Global Consistency in design, quality & messaging, a Digi-Physical mindset and measurement of results.


- What place in events of Volvo brand rank new technologies? What types of brand's activities are more focused on the wow effect and the use of the latest special effects and gadgets, and which events are based more on the idea and values than on technical chips?

The story we want to tell is always in the center. New technology is exciting but has no value in itself. It's needed to help us tell our story in the most engaging way.


- What place does the digital component occupy in your events?

A social media mindset is central through all our events, from marketing the event, creating engagement and sharing the experience to friends and family.


- Why does the automobile brand hold a round-the-world regatta? What common values do you demonstrate in this project? Is the team working on it rather big? What organization and hospitality partners do you attract in different countries where the teams arrive? 

The Volvo Ocean Race has been very successful for us even if we now have transferred the race to new owners after almost 20 years. It has given us tremendous exposure in world media and provided us with a unique platform for customer relations and promotions. We are also proud of being able to innovate and create real results in such area as sustainability which is one of our core values.

Through our close partnership with the UN Environment, Clean Seas Project the Race has contributed to fighting the growing problem of plastics in the oceans. Together with UN and other partners  we have carried out Ocean Summits, educational programs, measurement of plastic pollution in remote areas and beach cleans all around the world. We have also started initiatives within diversity by bringing more female sailor and youth onboard the racing boats.

Owning and handling every aspect of the race required a large team. A year prior and during the race approximately 100 persons worked in our Race Office in Alicante, Spain.


- What are the other latest highlights of your Department's activities?

Activation of our partnership with the Nobel Foundation, Launches of the 60-series including Press test drive of the Volvo S60 in the US and Winter Test Drive of the Volvo V60 Cross County in the northern part of Sweden.


- What makes you loyal to BFEF and Baltic Events Awards? Why did you accepted the invitation to become a member of Jury? And why do you think it may be interesting for event profs to participate in the Awards & BFEF?


This is a major event in our business so I was very honored when I was asked to be part of the Jury.

What makes it extra interesting for me is that up to now I have spent less time working with the Baltic Markets compared to other parts of the world. I really like the concept with short & focused pitching sessions and based on previous winner I expect many very qualified and exciting projects from the contestants. Obviously I am also looking forward to listening to all the very interesting speakers at the Forum.



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