Does Bollywood help in selling cars??
Over the last few years, as our domestic film industry has evolved and emerged as a viable marketing platform, a lot of carmakers have used it to showcase their products. In the recently released superhit Rockstar for example, the protagonist is seen driving and riding a number of bikes and cars…from a Suzuki Slingshot and Honda Shine to a Harley in Prague and a Volvo XC60.
Sitting inside the theatre and overhearing the comments of two school going kids going ga-ga over the Harley made me realise what kind of an impact a casually selected vehicle in a movie may have on the minds of the impressionable viewer. Who knows the two boys would grow up fantasising about owning a Harley themselves at some point of time in their lives. And that set me thinking on whether Bollywood actually helps in selling a car or a movie through its 100mm screens?
Like Rockstar, a number of movies in the past have featured exotic cars that stay etched in our memories. Encapsulating all of them is a tedious task, but here are a few of them.
Maruti Swift in Bunty aur Babli
A masterstroke of sorts for the country’s largest carmaker, Swift was launched in India on the same day that the movie was released back in the summer of 2005. And as if on cue, fellow conspirators Abhishek Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee were seen driving around and even making out inside a brand new orange Swift.
The car stayed with them and was in some way an important part of the flick till almost the climax when they had to dump the vehicle on the road to avoid getting caught. The movie turned out to be one of the biggest hits in the two actor’s careers, and Swift a raging success from day one. It could however be said, that the car would have still succeeded even if the movie had bombed, but the initial fillip does not hurt.
Hyundai Santro in Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani
By the time the movie came about, the car was already 2 years old and a household name. But the use of the red Santro driven by the reigning superstar, heading off a cliff and landing atop a tree was the first time that a brand endorsement had spilled on to the big screen.
SRK has been true to the ideology ever since. While PBDHH flopped rather miserably, he followed it up with Chalte Chalte using a Santro again. More noticeably though, he used an i10 for the inimitable guy next door Suri in Rab ne Bana Di Jodi. It would not be unwise to say, it did help i10’s cause which in 2008 was still finding its way into the market.
Why then did SRK opt for a VW over a Hyundai in Ra1? Thats another story but he is back to his loyal best in Don 2 with the Hyundai Santa Fe.
Mercedes CLK in Dil Chahta Hai
In the summer of 2002, Dil Chahta Hai created the benchmark for the generation next and when the three stars decide to go on an impromptu road trip to Goa midway during the movie, you knew you would be treated to a glimpse of a jaw dropping beauty.
Enter the blue gray Mercedes CLK convertible, which I can bet is part of the fantasy road trip for everybody from this generation. The Beemers, Audi and Jags were not there in the country then but that would not have mattered. The CLK fit the bill so perfectly, that it is difficult to imagine anything else in its place.
But as most fantasies go, the steep price of the car and the marginal utility of a convertible in India has ensured that the car has remained at the sidelines of the German auto giant’s bulging product cache. Even then, as a product that sets aspirational levels, the CLK was a class act.
Volvo XC90 in 3 Idiots
People were mesmerised by the red sports utility vehicle snaking its way through the gorgeous Manali Leh highway and it only grew when the movie was released during Christmas last year. The Swedish firm that had hardly registered a presence in India till then, had still not launched the vehicle yet and 3 idiots gave it the best possible curtain raiser ever.
Unfortunately though, Volvo could not follow up the good work and despite the movie’s roaring success, XC90 remains an unmitigated disaster. Bad marketing, disinterested branding and shoddy after sales marred what was and is a very capable vehicle and excellent pre launch hype.
The bottomline : Just like a good trailer would ensure a good opening for a movie, an expertly shot vehicle in a movie will rouse interest. But the movie needs substance for it to become a blockbuster…..so does the car.