Epic Split

"Epic Split" is a 75-second-long commercial released in late-2013 by Volvo Trucks. It features Jean-Claude Van Damme performing gymnastic splits between two backwards moving trucks set to the music "Only Time" by Enya.[2][3]

Epic Split
Epic Split Volvo Trucks commercial.png
AgencyForsman & Bodenfors
ClientVolvo Trucks
Running time75 seconds
Release date(s)22 November 2013
Directed byAndreas Nilsson
Music byEnya, "Only Time"
Budget$3–5 million (estimated)[1]


External video
  Volvo Trucks - The Epic Split feat. Van Damme (Live Test) on YouTube (1 minute, 16 seconds)

The director was Andreas Nilsson.[4] It was the sixth advert released in the series called Live Test which Swedish advertising agency Forsman & Bodenfors had created for Volvo Trucks.[3] The runway of the closed Ciudad Real Central Airport in Spain was selected as the shooting location during the five-month planning period.[4]

Following three days of rehearsals, the stunt footage featuring van Damme was recorded in a single take.[5] Van Damme was protected by a hidden safety harness and wire not visible in the final result.[5] A small platform was fitted to each truck behind the wing mirrors to support Van Damme's feet during the stunt.[4] Mikael Rosell was the driver of the truck steering sideways.[6][7] Both trucks were driving in reverse at a fixed speed of 25 kilometres per hour (16 mph), with co-drivers in each of the two trucks to help monitor the speed.[7]

Filming was performed with an Arri Alexa digital camera mounted via a boom to a camera car.[4] The long shot was done in a single take, because of the position of the sunrise.[7] Colour grading was done by The Mill and removal of reflections and safety wires was done by Swiss International.[4]


One week after release, Epic Split had been viewed online 25 million times, and after nine days reached 40 million views.[8]

Enya's music "Only Time" re-entered the Billboard Top 100 reaching number 43, thirteen years after the original release.[9] An initial international follow-up market research survey by GfK found Epic Split to be the most attention grabbing of the six adverts in the Live Test series, but less effective than the other five in causing immediate action of the viewer.[10]

Neuroscientific analysis showed that female viewers were more intrigued and engaged during the split itself; whereas male viewers sympathised with the pain possibly being felt by Van Damme, subsequently leading to high memory encoding effectiveness at the precise point of the "Volvo Dynamic Steering" message being shown.[11] By late-2014 the overall campaign was estimated to have cost $3–4 million to produce, and generated $170 million in revenue for Volvo.[1]


Less than a week after Volvo released the advert, a face-swapped variant was distributed, with Van Damme replaced by Rob Ford, then Mayor of Toronto.[12] In November 2013 during the filming of 22 Jump Street, a parody was created with actor Channing Tatum performing the splits between two food trolleys.[8]

In December 2013, a parody was created apparently showing Chuck Norris as Walker, Texas Ranger performing a similar manovuer between two aircraft to the opening lines of Hamlet.[13] As the camera pulls back eleven Commandos are seen balancing on the character's head in the shape of an illuminated Christmas tree.[13] Five years later, the director of Epic Split, Nilsson, would go on to film a commercial for Toyota Tacoma pickups featuring the real Chuck Norris.[14]


In May 2014, Epic Split won the Best in Show award from The One Club.[2] During 2014 Epic Split won a Black Pencil award from the Design and Art Direction design awards in 2014.[15] In December 2014, the advert received six prizes including the Film Grand Prix at the Eurobest awards in Helsinki, Finland.[1]

In 2015, it won another prize at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, for Creative Effectiveness.[16]


  1. ^ a b c "Volvo scoops award for viral Van Damme advert". The Local. Sweden. 5 December 2014. Archived from the original on 29 September 2018. Retrieved 29 September 2018. Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter estimated earlier this year that the Van Damme ad cost in the region of 20–30 million kronor ($3–4.7 million) to produce and that it raked in raked in an estimated 1.1 billion kronor ($170 million).
  2. ^ a b Nudd, Tim (9 May 2014). "Van Damme's 'Epic Split' for Volvo Trucks Tops The One Show". Adweek. Archived from the original on 24 August 2017. Retrieved 29 September 2014. Forsman & Bodenfors work conquers all
  3. ^ a b Griner, David (16 June 2014). "Undivided Attention: How 'Epic Split' Became the Buzziest Ad at Cannes". Adweek. Archived from the original on 11 December 2018. Retrieved 29 September 2018. Volvo Trucks snatches up awards—and new customers
  4. ^ a b c d e Failes, Ian (26 November 2013). "Behind the scenes of JCVD's epic Volvo split". FX Guide. Archived from the original on 30 September 2018. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  5. ^ a b Alexander, Bryan (18 January 2014). "Van Damme discusses his 'epic' split" (Exclusive). USA Today. Archived from the original on 8 November 2020. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  6. ^ Rosell, Mikael (8 December 2017). "Behind the scenes of the epic split with Jean-Claude Van Damme" (Interview). Volvo Group. Archived from the original on 30 September 2018. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  7. ^ a b c Karlsson, Jens; Rosell, Mikael (5 December 2013). "Exclusive Interview with the drivers of the Volvo-Van Damme commercial". Pulsul Tehnologiei (Interview). Interviewed by Teodor Ciontu. Archived from the original on 30 September 2018. Retrieved 30 September 2018. speed you were driving at? JK: 25 km/h.
  8. ^ a b Graser, Marc (22 November 2013). "Why a Volvo Stunt is Jean-Claude Van Damme's Biggest Hit in Years". Variety. Archived from the original on 29 September 2018. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  9. ^ Raymer, Miles (3 December 2013). "Enya reenters the Hot 100 with help from Jean-Claude Van Damme". Chicago Reader. Archived from the original on 30 September 2018. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  10. ^ Swift, James (1 April 2014). "Van Damme spot is least effective Volvo ad". Campaign. Archived from the original on 29 September 2018. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  11. ^ "The science behind Cannes winning ads: Volvo Epic Split". Adnews. 2 July 2014. Archived from the original on 1 October 2018. Retrieved 1 October 2018. Excruciatingly Effective – For Blokes … amongst our top 4%. These high levels of memory confirm that the Volvo branding has been committed to male viewers' long-term memory … At the very point where males become highly engaged, women completely lose interest.
  12. ^ Griner, David (18 November 2013). "Rob Ford Flawlessly Replaces Van Damme in 'Epic Split' Parody". Adweek. Archived from the original on 30 September 2018. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  13. ^ a b Shoichet, Catherine E. (22 December 2013). "'Chuck Norris' does the splits between two planes". CNN. Archived from the original on 9 December 2019. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  14. ^ Griner, David (17 August 2018). "Chuck Norris Gets Replaced by Truck Norris in This Wonderfully Over-the-Top Toyota Spot". Adweek. Archived from the original on 30 September 2018. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  15. ^ "The Epic Split". Design and Art Direction. Archived from the original on 2 October 2018. Retrieved 29 September 2018. Black Pencil / Digital Marketing / Online Branded Films / 2014
  16. ^ Dumenco, Simon (23 June 2015). "Volvo Trucks' 'Epic Split' Wins Again; Takes Home Creative Effectiveness Grand Prix". Adage. Archived from the original on 17 October 2017. Retrieved 29 September 2018.

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Coordinates: 38°51′11″N 3°57′00″W / 38.853°N 3.95°W / 38.853; -3.95 (Filming location for "Epic Split")