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The James Bond effect: Why piggybacking the brand is unlikely to die down

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Over the years, the creators of the James Bond movies have succeeded in portraying and marketing the James Bond character and brand in a very consistent way.

According to Andrew Lycett, biographer of Ian Fleming, Bond’s creator would have approved of product placement in the films because he littered his books with brand names.

The first brand to appear was inFrom Russia With Love, where his housekeeper May hands him a tray of breakfast and The Times, “the only paper Bond ever read.” And when he visits London, we are told that his breakfast is “always the same”: toast with Norwegian heather honey from Fortnum‘s and coffee from De Bry in New Oxford Street.

Note that everything always sounds like it’s a luxury item!

The fact is that, for the novels’ machines, Bond tells us the exact make and specifications of every meal he eats, plane he boards or car he drives.

“Ian Fleming was quite a brand person,” Lycett noted. “He was writing at a time when Britain was coming out of the war years and people wanted things to aspire to. Bond was eclectic in his drinking, as Fleming was. There are champagnes he refers to, such as Taittinger.”

This has trickled into the James Bond movie adaptions, the love of brands undoubtedly passed on from Flemming to the Broccoli family – the current owners of the Bond films. It’s now come to the point where many other brands want to be seen in connection with the series in order to profit from its strength. According to BV4, in Skyfall alone, $45m was generated thanks to product placement.

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The fact that the novels were rife with different products lends itself well to the changing brands on screen. If there’s one thing we learn from Flemming, it’s that Bond is no brand loyalist.

Take his taste in drinks, for example. Although many may only recall Bond drinking Martinis, “shaken, not stirred”, through the course of series Bond establishes that he has a penchant for Bollinger, Dom Perignon, Pol Roger, Veuve Clicquot, Tattinger and… Heineken?

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The latter courted some controversy. But despite the fact that fans were clearly outraged – somehow drinking beer doesn’t lend well to the traditional gent image he always maintained – Heineken grew by 3.7 per cent after Daniel Craig took a swig from the bottle. And after announcing a deal with the makers of Skyfall and the London Olympics, overall Heineken sales volumes rose by 8.4 per cent.

What many don’t realise is that Heineken has been a faithful sponsor since 1997. The brand also admitted that by using the 007 brand in marketing campaigns, sales outperformed other previous promotions.

“We have always felt great about Bond and Heineken [together], because they are truly international characters and they are both premium,” said Hans Erik Tuijt, the executive responsible for sponsorships for Heineken’s brands.

Another odd drink to take Bond fans by surprise was Coke Zero. As part of the Unlock the 007 in you campaign, anyone buying a Coke Zero at Antwerp station was challenge to a 70 second dash to another platform in order to claim free tickets to see Skyfall.

Of course, Coke didn’t make it easy for them. Take a look:

This was followed by a range of ads where the hero saved the girl while drinking Coke and saying the Bond theme tune much like a musical rendition.

Needless to say, it was a social media viral success. It has also been dubbed as the most shared Bond related ad of all time.

Adriana Meneses, a junior account planner at JWT Atlanta, said the campaign completely encapsulated experiential marketing. “It had a surprise factor, it was to the brand of Coca-Cola and it was storytelling in that it immersed you in the James Bond world for 70 seconds,” she said. “It was shareable and became it’s own mini-commercial and it was just really fun. I’d totally want to do that.”

The 007 link clearly had an effect.

VisitBritain didn’t miss the trick either. They used a “Bond is GREAT Britain” tagline to tap into the hype.

According to the tourism agency, the campaign “aimed to capitalise on the global fascination with James Bond, [and] encourage 007 fans to head to Britain – the home of Bond – for their next holiday”.

Sandie Dawe, CEO of VisitBritain, said: “007 has orchestrated many critical missions for Queen and country – including escorting Her Majesty to the fantastic Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Games – so it is only right that we call upon his services now to encourage more people to holiday in Britain. That is a worthy challenge and one that we feel is well on track following an outstanding 2012 that has thrust Britain into the limelight like never before.”

These brands, much like Aston Martin, Omega and Belvedere vodka, won’t be the last ones to take advantage of the James Bond image, especially when it comes to selling British products overseas.

As Belvedere CEO Charles Gibb said: “There is no better way to talk to a global audience than through a global man of distinction, an icon.” 

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