Mumbai: It was almost 10 years ago in Die Another Day that James Bond, played by Pierce Brosnan, rammed a Range Rover into a parking lot rail and the villain Zao (Rick Yune) drove a highly-modified Jaguar XKR roadster equipped with missiles and machine guns.
Bond has driven many British cars, including the Aston Martin, Lotus and Bentley, but Jaguar Land Rover made a comeback with 007’s latest movie Skyfall with Daniel Craig and field agent Eve (Naomie Harris) chasing the villain’s car (an Audi) in a Land Rover Defender in the opening scene.
Jaguar Land Rover Plc (JLR) provided 77 vehicles, including the Land Rover Defender, Range Rover and Jaguar XJ, for use both on-screen and as production support vehicles to the 007 movie, which released this September. JLR parent Tata Motors Ltd expects the movie, which has grossed Rs.56 crore till date in India according to a Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. spokesperson, will have a rub off on its sales.
“We do expect sales to go up as James Bond is an iconic movie,” said Karl Slym, managing director of Tata Motors.
“While the amount involved is not known, the subtle branding has indeed given a fillip to the sales of Jaguars and Land Rovers in India,” said a dealer from Maharashtra on condition of anonymity.
Usually, cars are given as part of a bilateral agreement between the production house and the car company. While the production house gets to use the cars, the car maker gets the publicity.
The cars were “loaned out” to Eon Productions Ltd, the production house for all Bond movies. “We did not interfere or decide any of the sequences where our cars were used,” said a JLR spokesperson.
When Tata Motors acquired JLR in 2008, the unit was posting losses that affected the parent. Tata Motors reported its first annual loss in seven years in 2009, buffeted by a slump in global demand and losses at the JLR unit. The company had a consolidated loss of Rs.2,505.25 crore against a stand-alone profit of Rs.2,167.70 crore a year ago.
Things have changed—now JLR’s helping Tata Motors post profits. JLR maintains its exclusivity as a British brand and has a separate team that handles its branding and sales activity. Stand-alone profit in the September quarter jumped to £305 million (around Rs.2,696 crore today) from £172 million a year ago, while that of Tata Motors surged to Rs.867 crore from Rs.102 crore, according to Capitaline, a provider of financial and corporate information.
About two-thirds of the revenue is contributed by JLR, according to a Tata Motors press release. “Had JLR not paid a dividend of Rs.1,312 crore to Tata Motors, the parent would have posted losses,” chief financial officer C. Ramakrishnan said declaring the September quarter results on 7 November.
The movie may help the company expand its global business although Tata Motors as a brand may not necessarily become so popular overseas.
“Through movies, the car brands get exposed to a larger prospective audience than the one advertising alone can reach. Since the number of movie halls is higher than the number of showrooms, it gives the brand manager a wider number of points of contact to engage interested prospects,” said Kiran Khalap, managing director of Chlorophyll Brand and Communications Consultancy Pvt. Ltd.
As for India, JLR has some way to go, said analysts.
About 1,243 Jaguars and Land Rovers were sold in the country in April-October 2012, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam). In FY 2011-12, JLR India had sales of 2,288 cars, in comparison with 891 cars in FY 2010-11 and 226 cars in FY 2009-10, according to the company website.
Compared with competitors in the luxury segment such as BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz, which have a market share of 34%, 34% and 24%, respectively, according to Siam, JLR has an 8% share.
“The base of JLR is very low in India and there is a lot of scope to scale up,” said Yaresh Kothari, automobile analyst at Angel Broking Ltd. “The movie will certainly help.”
A rapid, large jump in sales is unlikely as the JLR vehicles are expensive, analysts said.
“Other car makers have assembling facilities in India. JLR is a very new player in the country and even the lower-end models are expensive,” Kothari said.
Zahra Khan contributed to this story.