007 shakes and stirs brands into life

Bond… James Bond… gives a stellar cast of international brands a license to thrill their customers with glamorous high octane stories. Supercars screech, vintage champagne pops, vodka is shaken, precision timepieces tick-tock and sharp suits remain achingly cool as the heat rises in the casino.

It’s almost too good to be true. Brands have been desperate to be worn, driven, eaten, drunk and often destroyed by 007 ever since 1962’s ‘Dr. No’ and, judging by the activity around ‘No Time To Die,’ the 25th Bond film, the momentum is still building. Almost 50 brands jostled for product placements and collaborations alongside Daniel Craig, the seventh Bond.

Cue credits for the A-list cast: Omega, Heineken, Jaguar Land Rover, Triumph Bikes, DHL, Michael Kors, Smirnoff, Crockett & Jones, Barton Perreira, and Tom Ford… Many of the brands have created expensive dedicated ads, designed one-off special collections, and exploited their provenance by basking in past glories with the franchise.

It is perhaps no surprise Bond has become the spy who is loved by marketers as they can choose from a wide range of the glamorous spy’s stand-out characteristics – coolness, style, humour, irony, beauty, maleness, power, speed, precision, glamour – to sell, sell, sell. Good old 007 ensures their brands live and let their customers buy?

Bond – a license to sell, sell, sell…

Humour is deep in the Bond DNA. I love the stylish DHL ad by 180 Amsterdam which stars a mild-mannered courier getting mixed up in a high-speed Aston Martin chase. It’s shot in the streets of Shanghai and choreographed to the soundtrack of “The Spy Who Loved Me”. It’s great fun and yells the brand message: DHL is trustworthy and steady.

Quality is always a winner. Omega, which has been a fixture on Bond’s wrist since Pierce Brosnan first sported a Seamaster Diver 300M in ‘Golden Eye’ in 1995, has released a limited edition of just 7,007 pieces of the 42mm Seamaster Diver 300M.

Exclusivity and craftsmanship also work. The eye-catching ad that reveals Q, the creative guru who creates Bond’s gadgets, has enhanced the watch with his signature modifications. The real-life watch – with the same military inspiration, lightweight design and vintage touches – is now available to fans. Precision engineering at its best!

An anti-establishment streak is also a winner, especially if a delicious drink is involved. So Smirnoff is back with an amusing and well-judged campaign called ‘There’s a Spy in Everyone‘. It highlights how everyday people can find their ‘inner spy’ to solve life’s challenges. Samantha, the star of the one film, has pretended to leave the country to get out of her hard-to-quit gym membership. And she’s celebrating, of course, with a Smirnoff Martini… shaken but not stirred.

Creative content 

Brands have also been busy creating all sorts of spin-off content campaigns around the film. At the Italian Formula One Grand Prix weekend the Aston Martin team, for example, replaced the usual Aston Martin logos on the sleek cars with the iconic 007 badge. Subtle. Exclusive. Powerful. Is there a more natural and symbiotic relationship between a fictional character and a brand than Bond and Aston Martin?

The product placement and marketing content for many of the brands also goes far beyond the screen time of the film and related ads. One Aston Martin video shows a stunt man challenging two Formula One drivers, Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll, to try and recreate the risky moments from the film. It’s fun, insightful and bangs home the skill of driving in the film and the sheer quality of the cars.

Similarly, Jaguar Land Rover has released behind-the-scenes content of a stunt team from the film showcasing the new Defender used in the chase sequences. “It raises awareness of our products across the film’s global audience and provides a testing bed for us to push our vehicles to extreme limits,” a spokesperson explained. “The James Bond films provide the perfect synergy with our brand values of British heritage, luxury, and sophistication.”

Bond may be British, but his love of booze – he has a drink every 10 minutes 53 seconds on average, according to Business Insider – is international. In addition to Russian Smirnoff, he has a penchant for French Bollinger and, after a $45m investment, Heineken. The Dutch beer has cleverly made a virtue of the three-times delayed launch of the film with an ad called ‘Worth the Wait’.

Daniel Craig sits in a quiet pub. Portishead’s mellow “Glory Box” swoons in the background and he lifts a bottle of Heineken from the table and slowly, slowly pours it into a carefully angled glass. His face subtly reveals just how keen he is to drink. And then, finally, after an unrushed and contemplative sip, he stares directly into the camera and says, you guessed it, “Well worth the wait.”

The beer looks utterly delicious. Even though it’s a basic Heineken? And that’s the power of great placement, great creative and, of course, James Bond. The man with the golden marketing touch.

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