It’s not an easy task to sell cars in India. Vincent Cobee, the Global Head of Datsun, once said that “India is a very complex market to understand“. Yes, that’s right. Understanding the Indian car market is a tough job. The sheer diversity of the Indian car market makes it really tough for the car companies to come up with vehicles that can suit everybody’s taste. Hence, in a country that worships its movie stars and cricketers, using these celebs as brand ambassadors for the cars makes a lot of sense. However, let’s take a look at five cars that bombed in spite of celebrity endorsements.
Force One & Amitabh Bachchan
Basically, the Force One is based on a Chinese copy of an older generation Ford Explorer. Known in China as the Guangdong Foday Explorer III, this Chinese SUV led to the birth of the Force One. Force Motors wanted to grab a chunk of the sales pie in the thriving SUV market with its One SUV. It roped in megastar Amitabh Bachchan to endorse the Force One. However, in spite of being promoted by Big B and being powered by an engine that had German roots, the SUV couldn’t sell well.
Fiat Palio & Sachin Tendulkar
The Fiat Palio was supposed to spearhead Fiat’s comeback into India. Fiat India roped in star cricketer Sachin Tendulkar for endorsing the hatchback. Even though most car enthusiasts still swear by the punchy 1.6-litre petrol engine and a competent suspension setup, the Palio couldn’t sell too well. Fiat India even came out with an S10 limited edition model to capitalize on the popularity of the cricketer. Sachin was even gifted a Palio, which was then publicized to gain some attention using the celebrity connection. Unfortunately, all of this hardly worked in the car’s favour. The Palio was actually a pretty good car and endorsement from Sachin made it really hard to ignore it. Sadly, however, the Indian small car buyers decided to stay away from this sporty hatchback.
Mahindra Verito & Jimmy Shergill
The Mahindra Verito is nothing but a re-badged version of the Renault Logan. Mahindra and Mahindra roped in actor Jimmy Shergill to endorse its entry-level sedan. The company launched a marketing campaign that showed Jimmy Shergill as a middle-class guy who drove the no-nonsense Verito. However, the car failed to impress the sedan buying lot. The only saving grace came in the form of a somewhat better demand in the fleet market. A really large portion of the Verito that has been sold are being used as commercial vehicles.
Fiat Punto & Yuvraj Singh
Fiat India roped in another star cricketer, Yuvraj Singh, to endorse the Punto. Back in the day, the Punto came across as a world-class, well-built, and sufficiently fun-to-drive car whose design came from none other than Giorgetto Giugiaro. Plus, the Yuvraj Singh connection helped it catch some attention. Come to think of it, Yuvraj was the perfect brand ambassador – he was in news for helping India win the 2011 World Cup and hence, enjoyed a huge popularity. However, the car buyers decided to stay away from this gorgeous hatchback. Even a facelift, which was launched a few years later, failed to impress the buyers.
Chevrolet Aveo & Saif Ali Khan-Rani Mukherjee
The Chevrolet Aveo was another C-segmenter that failed to impress the car buyers. It was endorsed by not one but two Bollywood celebrities – Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukherjee. Actually, getting both the actors to endorse the car made incredible sense – the duo was in limelight for playing the lead roles in a movie called ‘Tara Rum Pum’, which was basically a remake of the Tom Cruise-starrer ‘The Days of Thunder’. In spite of being a pretty handsome car that offered a decent ride quality, upmarket interior, and punchy 1.4- and 1.6-litre engines, the Aveo totally failed to find many takers.