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When The Car Is The Real Star?

3 min read
When The Car Is The Real Star?

A recent press release that landed in my inbox was from Lamborghini about the Gallardo featuring in the Tom Cruise starrer Mission Impossible: 3 quite prominently. Apparently, the movie’s cast arrived in ten Gallardo’s to the movie’s premiere in Rome.

The connection between cars and Hollywood is not a recent one. Cars have been the stars since James Bond was born. The British agent was one of the reasons why Aston Martins are considered iconic. So effective was James’ rub on Aston’s image that German carmaker BMW decided to hijack Bond from under Aston’s nose and manage to get the rub for some of its cars. BMW not only placed Bond’s butt in the diminutive Z3 but also the lavish 750iL and the futuristic Z8, not to mention the R1200C cruiser. It was only with die Another Day that James Bond returned with Aston Martin again, perhaps now a healthier Aston Martin under Ford was ready to support the movie.

There are others too who have had cars (and bikes) as the stars. Nothing gave a rub to Honda Civics and Mitsubishi Lancer Evos and Eclipses than the two The Fast and the Furious movies. Cruise’s earlier MI: 2 made a Triumph Speed Triple look delicious while admit it or not, the Spyker C8 Laviolette in Basic Instinct 2 looks better than the female lead.

So what do companies get out of this infatuation with Hollywood? A positive image in a hot movie is often better than 100s of adverts and many editorial pages. A bad movie does no wonders for anyone. So for instance, a Biker Boys did not give the rub to the Hayabusa or the ZX 12R or the R1 or the Ducati 996S or GSX 750, all featured prominently in the movie. It did not make a star out of it. The cult hit serial from the 80s – Street Hawk – did make the bike a star but then no one Not for a reason did Spyker fend off heavy competition from Mercedes-McLaren SLR to get close to Sharon Stone in BI 2. For a boutique manufacturer like Spyker to be associated with a major Hollywood movie is a major achievement and casts the limelight on the company in one stroke. This will ensure that Spyker’s entire production of 80 odd cars every year will stay sold out for a decade.

So important is product placement in movies for international carmakers that some have sections in their marketing departments to work on this aspect uniquely. After all an unflattering use of a product can be really damaging to the product’s image. And who else but Tata Motors can vouch for that. While the RGV factory production Road made the Tata 1210 truck a star when it catches up with a Safari, it did nothing great for the Safari’s already dodgy image.

In fact, product placement by Indian car manufacturers is often bad, bordering often on slanderous. While Maruti did well to associate the Swift with a blockbuster like Bunti aur Babli, not many will recall seeing the Swift in the movie. In fact the biggest car stars in Indian moviedom have often been the ambitious creations of stylist Dilip Chabbria. No one remembers a movie called Tarzan – The wonder car but everyone does remember the car.

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