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  1. #1
    Kal Ho Na Ho
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    India & Cambodia

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    Once upon a time, you could buy a Fiat or an Ambassador, or, if you couldn’t afford four wheels, a Bajaj or a Lambretta; if you could get one

    without waiting for eternity, that is, courtesy your sarkari connections. You didn’t need any star to persuade you to buy one of these.Then things changed.

    As the number of players in the industry expanded, the need for a distinct profile emerged, and just the way all the cellular service providers competed to associate with stars while BSNL/MTNL (with the none-too memorable participation of Preity Zinta and Deepika Padukone in a couple of campaigns being the exceptions) had never felt the foggiest need to do so, the newer entrants opted for the only reliable icons that seem to sell anything – Bollywood and cricket stars. And the top stars all came on board. SRK was, and has stayed, the face of Hyundai, Aamir was signed on to position the Innova distinctly, the Bachchans, dad and son, came together to sell the now-defunct Versa. Over the years, it’s almost become a norm now for Bollywood’s A-list to associate with the auto industry, and in the case of some stars, their on-screen persona has also fit in well – John Abraham, for instance, is a natural fit to sell the sex appeal of a performance bike.

    As the Auto Expo kicked off in Delhi, the deluge of stars landing in the first two days has served to highlight the degree to which Bollywood has become the Instant India-connect face of international auto brands in India, apart from the bigger domestic players. John came for Yamaha, the suave father-daughter duo of Anil and Sonam Kapoor for Audi, Ajay Devgn with his butch macho-appeal for Mahindra and Mahindra’s Scorpio, SRK, of course, for Hyundai, Bipasha dropped in for a Mercedes-Benz event, while Vivek Oberoi was reportedly arriving to unveil the latest creation by car designer Dilip Chhabria ... and the turnout is hardly the end of the cine connect. Saif sells the Fiesta for Chevrolet, Sanjay Dutt has turned up at earlier Audi events, Hrithik competes with John when it comes to selling the racer-boy image by endorsing the Hero Honda Karizma, and so on. The Men In Blue haven’t been able to match up on this pitch to their on-screen rivals for icon space – Fiat has had Sachin and then Yuvraj on board without quite setting the sales charts afire, in the short term at least.

    Which is not to say that you need stars to sell vehicles. The largest selling car-maker, Maruti Suzuki, and the largest selling bike-maker, Bajaj Auto, seem to be currently managing quite well without a superstar pitching their wares. But so long as the Auto Expo begins to compete with the other Pragati Maidan event that brings in Bollywood glam by the planeloads to Delhi – the fashion weeks – we, for sure, aren’t complaining!



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