What if They Place your Product Without you Knowing It?

By: Deepesh

Visualise this. Amitabh Bachchan, playing a simpleton, just retired from service, walks past a car showroom with his wife when he stops to admire one of the cars parked outside. He knows that he cannot afford it, but hey, there are no costs for admiring a car. An eager, friendly, car salesman coaxes him to take a test-drive, which Amitabh is not very keen to do as he knows - and I have already told you so - that he cannot afford the car. But, being a human being and persuaded very convincingly by the car salesman, he reluctantly agrees to take a test drive. Test drive over, the unrelenting salesman again tries to sell him the car through attractive finance schemes. Our simpleton Amitabh is apologetic as he cannot afford the car, really, and I don't doubt him, as even my retired government official dad cannot afford a Rs 15-lakh car. Now this is where things go nasty. The cheerful Dr. Jekyll of a salesman suddenly turns into Mr. Hyde and starts uttering profanities against Amitabh. Not stopping at this, he then proceeds to slap and shove the old man around.

Holy cow! Pause. Rewind. Replay. Now that was a Ford India showroom and the car was a Mondeo.

Now you know why the Accord sells so much and the Mondeo finds it tough reaching double-digit sales. "They beat up people at Ford India dealerships," not a statement that I ratify, but precisely the unfortunate message that came out of this movie sequence. The movie in question was Baghban, which was released a few years back and was a moderate success.

On a serious note, my friends in Maraimalai Nagar in Chengalpattu down south wouldn't even have noticed the movie, and even if they had seen it and felt infuriated, they could hardly have done anything about the issue. For, when once a movie with such a thoughtless sequence is released, the damage is already done and there is no point in raking the issue. Actually, raking the issue is just snowballing it into a controversy and getting the movie more eyeballs and ensuring more damage to the product. Most often the long reaction time of the judiciary to take up such issues will see to it that major damage has already been done to your company's repute even before the court can decide on stopping the screening or making necessary changes to the movie. Anyways, it is difficult to raise any objections against a movie on grounds of misrepresentation of products or a company and be taken seriously.

Ironically, I have a feeling that the director didn't even think twice before going ahead with the sequence. Ford India can take comfort in the fact that they are not the only victims of this Bollywood automotive ignorance. Most of us will remember the 'Road' sequence where a Tata truck catches up with a Tata Safari.

That's why they sell more trucks than Safaris.

I guess they would have accelerated the Safari Petrol programme after the sequence in Road came out. Such apathy towards, otherwise sound vehicles, has been common in Bollywood movies with numerous sequences of dogs, monkeys, horses, hero-on-a-cycle, hero-on-a-tonga, hero-on-a-bullock-cart and even hero-barefoot chasing sleek, fast cars and catching them, much to the horror of automobile marketing executives across the country.

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