BRUCE GAIN

Hollywood glamour, Parisian chic and the Peugeot 308

The 308 features in car chase scenes in the Hollywood movie "Lucy."
Bruce Gain is an Automotive News Europe correspondent in France.
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PSA/Peugeot-Citroen's survival as a company largely hinges on the company selling at least half of its cars outside of Europe compared with about 40 percent now. As a glamorous means to that end, PSA is using Luc Besson's Hollywood film "Lucy" to give the Peugeot 308 a marketing push in more than 50 markets around the world.

The 308 is featured in a scene in which Scarlett Johansson, one of the brightest Hollywood stars, drives the 2014 European Car of the Year along the streets of Paris.

The film is about how the main character, Lucy, played by Johansson, possesses superhuman powers after she ingests a large quantity of an experimental drug against her will.

Part of the plot invariably involves fast-paced chase scenes. In one scene, Johansson speeds along in a 308 past the Place de La Concorde and along a very crowded Rue de Rivoli against traffic in search of a scientists played by Morgan Freeman, who can save her from the ultimately deadly effects of the drug.

The 308's placement in the film showcases what Peugeot says is the compact hatchback's high-performance handling and the brand's association around the world with Parisian chic and style.

Peugeot recently got a similar marketing lift from Hollywood earlier this year in the spy thriller "3 Days to Kill." The film features the Peugeot RCZ R and 208 GTi in several scenes as the cars race through the streets of Paris as the main character, played by Kevin Costner, hunts down terrorists as a freelance hitman for the CIA.

Car marketing today has become a very digitally intensive and high-tech process, often involving tracking customers’ buying habits online from the time they express an interest in purchasing a car until they drive it away from the dealership.

The 308’s role in "Lucy" serves a more traditional yet potentially powerful marketing function in South America, Asia as well as in Europe. The film also is being shown the United States, a market that Peugeot quit in 1991.

You can reach Bruce Gain at bgain@crain.com.

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