January 18th, 2021 by Carolyn Fortuna
He’s a dashing Golden Globe award winner, an actor whom the Guardian says “is at his best playing ambitious, slightly myopic men whose own movement quickens their fall.” He’s Oscar Isaac, and his allure, versatility, and charm have captured audiences from the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis to Star Wars to the HBO miniseries Show Me a Hero.
But Oscar Isaac is more than a Hollywood celebrity — he’s a climate activist, and he’s now featured in a multi-episode series released by the electric performance car brand Polestar. The videos use Isaac’s celebrity endorsement to delve into Polestar innovations, including the company’s self-described goals to “improve today’s society and that of the future.”
Polestar’s pursuit of accelerating sustainable mobility is the focus of “Making aNew,” a mini docuseries which, according to its press release, “seeks the truths behind Polestar’s ethos and advancements in sustainability, electrification, and performance.” The video series was created through a partnership with The Wall Street Journal.
As part of its sustainability agenda, the company began publishing detailed climate impact reports about its electric vehicles as they leave the production line, aiming for the highest levels of transparency among its automotive rivals, including a full lifecycle analysis of the Polestar 2 Electric Fastback. The company will also release its first annual sustainability report in March, 2021.
Polestar produces 2 electric performance cars. The Polestar 1 is a low-volume electric performance hybrid GT with a carbon fiber body, 609 hp, 738 ft.-lb. and an electric-only range of 60 miles – the longest of any hybrid car in the world. The Polestar 2 electric performance fastback is the company’s first fully electric, high volume car. Polestar 2 launched in 2020 with an all-wheel drive electric powertrain that produces 408 hp and 487 ft.-lb., with a maximum range of 233 miles (292 miles WLTP).
The Swedish premium electric performance car brand was founded by Volvo Cars and Geely Holding. Launched in 2017, the company’s joie de vivre surrounds development of new technologies, harnessing refined performance, and incorporating unconventional materials in the development of its vehicles.
5 Videos about Ethos through Traceability, Transparency, & Accountability
Each of the 5 videos points out a different aspect of Polestar’s quest for a sustainable future through from sourcing, manufacturing, and sales.
Trace: Here Oscar Isaac hosts 2 Polestar executives to learn about blockchain and the “critical role it will play on equality.” He discusses cobalt mining with Jonathan Goodwin, CEO Polestar UK and head of global communications and Linn Fortgens, director of sustainability and supply chain management. Acknowledging that Polestar uses “sensitive raw materials” that need to be sourced and mined sustainably, Fortgens points to a partnership with Better Mining, a company on the ground in the Democratic Republic of Congo that “is a proof point” for the company’s sustainability efforts.
Switch: Starting out this video by noting he is interested in “how mass responsibility is critical in the adoption of EVs,” Isaac interviews Hans Pehrson, head of R&D and electric propulsion strategy. EVs, Perhson says, can reduce an individual’s carbon footprint, but, “it actually has more CO2 to produce the car.” He shifts quickly to remind us that EV drivers “don’t have to fill up for the next 20 years.” EVs “are the future,” as, with “less cost, higher maintenance, and higher quality, it will be a big change for the industry.”
Thomas Ingenlah, CEO, speaks next. “What we want to do in the future more and more is to be very precise in the definition of what CO2 burden is connected to the car the customer buys from us.” He confirms that Polestar has “a very high ambition” which will involve a “step-by-step” process that includes focus on the materials selected to build Polestar cars in keeping with sustainable production goals.
Control: Zooming into the “DNA of the brand in performance,” Isaac interviews Christian Samson, head of products. Samson connects the company’s heritage to everything “that goes into these cars,” including an “endless search for improvement” which is “central to our DNA.” Samson described the company’s “smooth transition to BEV cars,” arguing that “refinement is what makes this car so astonishing.” Polestar starts with the steering, which he says is essential, as the “driver should have a light, responsive car. We always try to make the car feel honest, confident, and predictable.” Once behind the wheel, the driver will “know how the car will react. It feels very natural.”
Emphasis on the Polestar’s parallel chassis and distributed torque are key areas, as is testing around the world for a variety of conditions. The company has been able, according to Samson, to “merge control and benefits of motorsports into a clean, sustainable, and powerful unit that is completely seamless within luxury and form when you want to push it.” Isaac’s voice enters the scene in narrative overlay, “The handling, the speed, the design: this is a car born on the racetrack.”
Define: Descriptive design principles reimagine what luxury can be, according to Polestar. Moving from a nod to vegan leather, this video describes how sustainable and unconventional materials are the pinnacle of today’s standards of excellence. Isaac interviews Maximilian Missoni, head of design for Polestar. Isaac starts off by nodding to a Polestar EV off stage. “So, what we see out there: how does that impact what you’re doing?” Missoni outlines the consumptive process that has worked “pretty much for the last hundred years.” This linear economy has moved from taking raw materials from the earth, processing them, and selling the products to consumers who use then dispose of them. “We used to struggle against nature, and that was our way to dominate it,” Missoni admits. A circular economy, he envisions, can be “reusable, re-engineerable, and recyclable.”
Products that fulfill these design requirements go into the Polestar brand. Sustainable solutions, however, must be applied in ways to which people will respond positively. As example, Missoni mentions flax fiber, a composite like feels like linen and can be rewoven into a rigid structure that is “nearly as stiff as carbon fiber.” A 3D knit material incorporates recycled bottles for car seats and “pushes consumers’ aesthetics forward.” Polestar design uses “weave tech” to create new aesthetics rather than “quoting the same stereotypes, the old paradigms, while secretly changing the ingredients.”
Drive: Isaac begins the final video by musing about our “new normal.” He says he’s interested in what Polestar is doing in “adapting for consumers who want to make strides.” Jonathan Goodwin, CEO Polestar UK and head of global communications, appears again. Isaac initiates their conversation by offering the idea that “people’s relationship to work life and cars is changing.” Goodwin agrees, saying, “We have to adapt to cars the people want today — part of the connected life.” The Polestar’s Android-embedded connection is “a reflection on modern life. We want to have all the technology available when you need it,” and the Polestar system achieves this with voice activation. It is a way of “demystifying and decluttering.”
The video switches to David Holeck, digital experience expert, who says the Polestar 2 enters into “whatever digital experience you’re into” since the car is “fully integrated with Google and continuously updated.”
Final Thoughts about Oscar Isaac, Polestar, & Celebrity Endorsements
“We are determined to be the guiding star for our industry, accelerating the shift to more sustainable mobility,” summarizes Fredrika Klarén, head of sustainability at Polestar. “Innovation, clean energy, circular materials, and transparency are areas of particular focus. A great example of this is the use of blockchain to improve the accountability of our cobalt supply chain.”
In the future, the Polestar 3 electric performance SUV will join the portfolio, as well as the Precept – a design study vehicle released in 2020 that is slated for future production. Precept showcases the brand’s future vision in terms of sustainability, digital technology, and design.
The 5-part video series merges Oscar Isaac’s celebrity and the free-spirited ambitions of the Polestar brand. Isaac lent his image and likeness to the global brand for the video endorsements, generating value for Polestar. As a result, the human aspects of the car emerge while showcasing the many benefits of the car’s systems.
This is called a “bandwagon effect” — people’s propensity to do something primarily because other people are doing it, regardless of whether the actions depicted align with their original beliefs. So how successful is Isaac in these videos? To what degree is he an authentic and engaged interviewer, and how much is he a pre-scripted company spokesperson? Isaac as celebrity endorser has attributes such as attractiveness, trustworthiness, and familiarity, that’s for sure. But what kind of influence does he really have on the potential Polestar consumer’s perception of quality, purchase intentions, and brand loyalty? Let’s look at these and other questions in the next article in this series. It will be a way to extend this first Polestar analysis and to figure out how the Polestar target audience might respond to their new and extensive “Make aNew” video compilation.
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