Searching for America's Next Cult Car
So does a film like “The Italian Job” actually help BMW’s car business?
“The impact is enormous,” says Al Lieberman, executive director of the Entertainment, Media & Technology program at NYU’s Stern School of Business. “What could be better than to see it in that movie? It fits into tight spaces, whips through tunnels. Those things impacted, absolutely, someone who was thinking about buying a small car.”
The film “really helped promote the notion of this speedy little car, and the free spirits who drive it,” adds Heitmann.
It’s this convergence of image and sales that has automakers cultivating icon status. And auto manufacturers today don’t even wait for movies to be developed so they can insert car images. They produce the car-centric films themselves.
That’s what BMW did in 2001 and 2002, when it launched “The Hire,” a series of eight short, online films that teamed alluring, sturdy BMWs with top filmmakers like Ang Lee, exotic locations and attractive actors including Clive Owen and Stellan Skarsgard.
A car’s popularity and cult status — if achieved — can help car model sales, and boost all the brands under a company’s broader portfolio, says Heitmann.
“Corvette pulls up all of Chevrolet,” he says. The Chevy Corvette is owned by General Motors . “When you have an iconic cult car that is under the umbrella of that brand, it can do nothing but help the overall brands,” Heitmann says. “Everything is about the brand.”