For 50 years, from Sean Connery to Daniel Craig, cunning British Secret Service agent James Bond has captured the hearts and imaginations of 007 fanatics and moviegoers alike, each enthralled by the fictitious yet age-defying character depicted in 22 films since 1962.
The 23rd installment of the Bond series, entitled “Skyfall”, is slated to be released in the States on November 9. But chances are, unless you live in a world without technology, you’re well aware of the film’s anticipated big-screen debut. For the past six months, the producers of the film have taken advantage of several possible brand opportunities, from Bond’s widely disapproved beverage of choice to the watch worn on his wrist.
Image courtesy of LesRhabilleurs.com
BMW, Aston Martin, Revlon and Virgin Atlantic, to name a few, have each gone to great lengths to partner with the series in one form or another over the years, some featured more prominently than others throughout the film or prior its release. Like Simply Zesty put it, “You can always tell that big James Bond movie is about to be released when all the big brands start linking their marketing up to the franchise.”
In many ways, the Bond movies have redefined traditional product placement, and the latest film has perhaps raised the bar to even greater heights for future films. Here’s a look at some of the film’s latest marketing ploys, interesting ad campaigns and creative ideas that businesses can apply to their own marketing tactics.
“Heineken. Bottled, not canned”
In an eyebrow-raising bold move, Bond has ditched his unassailable affinity for vodka martinis (shaken, not stirred) in favor of Dutch brewer Heineken. The beer handed over a reported £28m to become the secret agent’s new beverage of choice and, of course, receive the honor of being featured prominently in a scene. That hefty lump sum helped pay for roughly one-third of the film’s estimated £93.7m (or $150 million) production budget.
Courtesy of Heineken
Despite being one of the most anticipated movies of the year, the switch to Heineken has stirred up plenty of outrage from its most devoted fans.
In this day and age, particularly with the Bond franchise, product placement may continue to evolve, becoming gradually more common in films. But is it damaging the Bond brand? Although I wouldn’t consider myself a Bond afficionado, I have a hard time believing the switch to Heineken will hurt Bond’s image. But the switch from his signature sophisticated cocktail to a not-so-classy lager is somewhat dubious. Smirnoff vodka made an appearance in “Dr. No”, so why couldn’t the producers of Skyfall come to terms with a similar brand—such as Grey Goose or Ketel One?
Nonetheless, Heineken scored big here, especially in the U.S. market where the beer may not have the same appeal as it does in Europe. Heineken recently released a TV ad featuring Daniel Craig, as well as several references to previous Bond films (i.e. Dr. No).
Moreover, Heineken unveiled a pair of engaging games and contests, including “Crack the Case” and “SpySight”, which was heavily promoted via Facebook and Twitter. This prompted a slew of positive engagement both from Bond fans and Heineken drinkers. Not only did it significantly promote the beer, but it was a pleasurable and fun experience for fans. The games also served as a great lead-in to the big debut.
Unlock the 007 in you
Narrow escapes and death-defying stunts are what make the Bond flicks so exhilarating for fans. So why not offer fans a glimpse into Bond’s action-packed scenarios? That’s exactly what Coke Zero tried to simulate with it’s recent “Unlock the 007 in You” campaign video that has already gone viral.
Random and unsuspecting travelers who purchased a Coke beverage from a vending machine at a European train station were asked: “Want the chance to win exclusive tickets to Skyfall?” The machine then directed the willing participant to “Go to Platform 6. You have 70 seconds to unlock the 007 in you.”
But it’s no small task. Contestants are put to the test with a number of obstacles that include spilled oranges, a beautiful Bond girl and a frustrating dog walker, among others. If and when the contestant reached the finish line, the race culminated with he or she humming the Bond tune.
Sounds awesome, right? The video has roped in nearly 6.6 million views on YouTube. According to strategic marketing consultant Frederic Gonzalo, Coke Zero’s thrilling stunt “spreads happiness, as per Coke’s core messsage intends to do.”
On the tech front
Sony’s “Intelligence Gathered” ad campaign showcases some of Sony’s most recent products, including the Xperia smartphone and tablet, VAIO laptops and its BRAVIA telivisions. It’s only fitting that a tech giant such as Sony would enlist the gadget-wielding secret agent to star in the campaign ads. Sony’s Xperia and VAIO products will make appearances in the film as well.
“Bond is the smartest of the smart. He demands the best.” Gildas Pelliet, Sony Europe’s Head of Marketing said, according to Expertreviews.co.uk. “Sony products in the film and the TV advertising campaign are not only the perfect fit for both Bond and Skyfall, but also the perfect way to show them in action.”
Certainly if Android is 007’s operating system of choice, that has to mean something. Android had no problem boasting its acclaimed Bond status on its Google+ account.
Bond save the Queen
And let’s not forget Bond’s epic “Skyfall” into the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony—accompanied by none other than Queen Elizabeth II. It was a brilliant mix of humor and elegance (we’re talking about the Queen of England). Certainly we all expected Danny Boyle’s opening ceremonies to be awesome, but the 007-Queen Elizabeth entrance was the cherry atop the sundae.
Bond has been nearly impossible to miss over the past few weeks or so, and the film’s exposure is only going to increase as soon as the film debuts in the states in a little more than a week. From Facebook to Twtter, James Bond is strewn across our social networks and thus thrusted into our everyday lives.
The recent advertising ploys and product tie-ins have been nothing short of impressive, and it makes you wonder whether or not future feature films will attempt to try a similar path to stardom. According to Box Office Mojo, the debut of Skyfall in 25 foreign markets took in a whopping $77.7 million, with an estimated $32.4 coming from Bond’s native United Kingdom. While some suggested the product placement was a little excessive, it turns out it will in fact pay off for the film.
Businesses can learn a number of things from Skyfall’s ascension. Coke Zero mastered the art of storytelling with its “Unlock the 007 in you” campaign, captivating an audience with real-life, dramatic scenarios. Meanwhile, Heineken took advantage of its position on several social media channels to promote the film and various contests and games, evoking big-time engagement via Facebook and Twitter.
The slow but remarkable build-up to the movie has inspired me to see the film in theaters when it’s released. Perhaps I’ll drink a Heineken or two afterward as well (bottled, not canned) … while sporting a lavish Tom Ford suit and an expensive Omega watch.