Jaguar Land Rover, Ford and Fiat are lately scoring the kind of real-life product placements that Hollywood could only dream about.
Land Rover scored a publicity coup when TV viewers saw Prince William and Kate Middleton strap their royal baby into a Land Rover SUV and drive him home from the hospital. What kind of message about safety and reliability did that send when the royal couple chose Land Rover for the first ride of George Alexander Louis?
The frugal new Pope Francis gave Ford an image boost when we reported he used a humble Focus hatchback in Vatican City. (Though his brand loyalty may be suspect: On his recent visit to Brazil, the Wall Street Journal noted the Pontiff tooled around in a budget-conscious Fiat.)
Of course, these placements don't happen by accident. British-based Jaguar Land Rover has provided England's Royal Family with vehicles for 60 years, said Stuart Schorr, a spokesman for Jaguar Land Rover North America. Similarly, Marco Alu, an executive at Ford Italia, said in an email that he has been providing vehicles to the Vatican for five years.
Still, it's not considered good form for automakers to capitalize on these connections. Instead, they let the media do the job for them with articles like, well, this one.