Recently, when Proton announced its multi-billion ringgit strategy (RM2.37bil, to be exact) to turn around sport-car outfit Group Lotus plc, this writer needed to get comments from analysts and industry observers on what they thought about the national carmaker’s move.
One analyst from a local bank-backed brokerage suggested that Proton, as part of its turnaround strategy, could consider featuring its Lotus sports cars in the movies to boost brand recognition and ultimately, sales.
If this does happen, it won’t be the first time that a Lotus sports car would be featured in the movies.
The amphibious Lotus Esprit shot to fame in the 1977 James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me and boosted sales for Lotus. In 1977, the Lotus Esprit shot to fame in the James Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me, staring Roger Moore and Barbara Bach.
The screen role of the Esprit (which also doubles as a submarine) in the movie did more for Esprit sales than anything else Lotus attempted to do.
Even though the car itself was heavily modified for the film, Lotus sales increased dramatically, resulting in a three-year waiting list for Esprit models, according to reports.
The movies not only helped beef up sales for Lotus. The model’s resale value also got a massive boost.
At a London auction in 2008, the amphibious Lotus Esprit that was featured in the James Bond movie went under the hammer and was sold for a cool 111,500.
Still on James Bond cars, at a London auction recently, the 1964 Aston Martin DB5 driven by Sean Connery’s James Bond in the movies Goldfinger and Thunderball was sold for 2.6mil.
A more recent example of a car made good at the movies is General Motors Corp’s (GM) Chevrolet Camaro, made popular in the Transformers and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen films in 2007 and 2009 respectively.
According to a June 2009 report by Bloomberg, GM, despite reeling from the global financial crisis at the time, was having difficulties keeping up with demand for its 2010 Chevrolet Camaro model.
GM, which began producing the muscle cars in March of that year, had already sold 5,463 units by May, the report said.
As at June 2009, the US carmaker said it had already received some 25,000 orders for the Camaro, attributing the heightened demand to the car’s on-screen presence in the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen film that opened earlier that month.
On the local front, the Chevrolet Camaro was displayed at the Kuala Lumpur International Motors Show in December.
Naza Quest, the local distributor of Chevrolet cars and a member of the Naza Group of Companies, will be looking to capitalise on the Camaro’s popularity in the movies and will be selling in Malaysia from this year.
For Proton, a major part of its turnaround strategy will involve the benefits it hopes to reap through Formula One (F1).
Though the commercial advantages that come with F1 cannot be denied, neither can the appeal of a blockbuster movie.
With that, can we expect to see a Lotus model featured in the next Transformers movie?