Is Schabir Shaik a BMW salesperson?

2011-03-23 00:00

I'M not altogether sure the people at BMW enjoy their association with Schabir Shaik, but they are getting some quite extraordinary publicity for their 7-Series cars and in particular the nifty little automatic boot- closing device.

When Shaik hit the headlines again last week by being arrested, put in jail, immediately moved into hospital and then almost as quickly sent home again, TV news bulletins showed him driving his shiny black Beemer. Over and over again.

Now either the TV networks don't have any video material of Shaik doing anything else but driving his car or he is a closet salesperson doing what appears to be a fantastic sales job for BMW.

Would you still aspire to drive a BMW in spite of seeing all this Shaikcentric advertising? Or, would you buy another brand on principle? Come on, be honest now.

For months during his trial, TV coverage consisted, to a large degree, of showing Shaik arriving in his black 7-Series and then leaving once again in his Beemer but never without showing one of his lackeys pressing the little button on the boot and having it whoosh down quietly and almost imperceptibly clunk closed.

All publicity is good publicity

Both and SABC film crews seem to have been absolutely fascinated with this boot-closing feature and by now I would imagine it has probably set a world record for the amount of publicity given to any single feature of a motorcar on public television.

Frankly, if I were still working for BMW I would be delighted and wouldn't give a toss about being associated with someone who is accused of all sorts of nefarious things. In this case all publicity is good publicity because people who buy 7-Series Beemers usually have the intelligence to realise that the car and the man are two completely separate things. And that BMW is certainly not responsible for who buys its cars.

Having said that, however, BMW has been extremely active in the TV and movie industries for at least the past decade or two with what it calls product-placement cars. It is good publicity. But, BMW does care a lot about who is seen to be driving its cars. So much so that if the Schabir Shaik Show were a fictional movie, he wouldn't get to drive the Beemer.

BMW have fleets of cars in all major movie-making centres that are available free of charge to TV feature and documentary makers, as well as producers of mainstream movies.


But, there is one little proviso — the Beemers are not allowed to be used by the bad people in a movie. Which is why in most feature movies today only the heroes get to drive the Beemers.

This is becoming more and more a part of marketing and there is no doubt that as conventional advertising on cinema and TV screens gets more and more cluttered, and as technology allows TV viewers to watch their favourite programmes on demand, which in turn will mean they'll be able to "zap" out the ads, product placement will become a far greater force in advertising.

It's already happening and it's very effective.

Next time you watch a soap opera try to drag your concentration away from what little plot there is and try to spot the product placement. It's exactly the same with sitcoms these days and personally I think this is a wonderfully effective compromise (if it's handled properly, which means subtly) between viewers' reaction against commercials interrupting programmes and the need to pay for programmes with ad revenue.

Future of advertising

As long as product placement is not contrived and intrusive, it works a treat. And best of all, it's an absolute cinch to measure.

It's the future of advertising.

But, the big question is should Shaik get given the latest model 7-Series from BMW? He has been doing a crack-up job for them.

— News24.

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