Automobiles and their placement in movies: Good for the image?

Always a tricky question for an automobile manufacturer - whether to place the car in a movie, or not - considering there is nothing to help them decide whether it would add to or subtract from the brand image of the product. Sourya Biswas evaluates the pros and cons of brand or product placements in the movies.

Once upon a time, in a kingdom far far away, the only advertisements the citizens saw at the movies were the irritating beauty-parlour commercials featuring not-so-beautiful women, and those plugging jewellery that were in fashion during the Mughals, illuminating the premises before the film started.

Not any more.

Cut to the present day, and you see actors wearing branded clothes, eating at branded restaurants, and even wash their clothes with branded detergents (reference: A kitchen scene in the Hrithik Roshan-starrer Krrish). And then, they drive their branded vehicles.

But for the saving grace of beautiful automobiles being productively placed as product placements, this disgraceful practice of rich studios accepting money from richer companies to promote their products independent of the movie's storylines would have been even more offensive.

This is not an endorsement of the practice of product placements, but merely stating that the presence of a branded vehicle in a movie is not so much visually jarring and mentally scarring as say, a branded detergent or a branded film star talking about his branded shoes (reference: Will Smith in I-Robot advertising his Concourse sneakers).

Not all product placements featuring automobiles have been solely for commercial and ornamental purposes. Surprisingly, some of them do manage to become an integral part of the stories they feature in. Of course, that maybe just a better advertising brain at work, but is certainly not unwelcome.