I should be upfront and disclose that I am yet to watch the new Bond film, Spectre. I can however assure you that when I go to the chic, urban comfort of Palace Barracks cinemas this weekend in my indigo-wash ASOS slim-fit jeans, I’ll be keeping an eye out for product placement.
In case you don’t already know, James Bond films have a reputation for slipping brands into storylines at sizeable cost, often with little subtlety. From cigarettes to alcohol, cars, watches, guns, technology and clothing, 007 has plugged more goodies than he’s shagged baddies.
In the second last Bond film Skyfall, Heineken reportedly paid $45 million for the super-spy to sip their brew on camera, a move that outraged die-hard Martini drinkers. With the launch of Spectre, Heineken has broken new ground by securing Daniel Craig to actually appear in their budget-blowing Bond-themed video, ‘The Chase’. They’re the only brand to actually get 007 into their ad, and one can only imagine the price they paid!
If you think getting product placement in this film franchise is just about opening your wallet, you’re wrong. The guardians of brand Bond are fiercely protective, only partnering with brands they feel strongly align with 007’s suave, premium image. Daniel Craig and director Sam Mendes were reportedly presented with a $50 million marketing and promotional package by Samsung to appear as Mr.Bond’s preferred tech-supplier in the new film. Word on the street is that both the actor and director did not want the stylish secret agent to be seen using a substandard phone, as he ‘only uses the best’. (I just glanced at my iPhone and feel smug about my stylish choice.)
Another brand that has piggybacked the success of Spectre’s launch is British fashion label N.Peal. Earlier this year they made a deal with the film’s producers to ensure their sleek cashmere sweaters made an appearance on Daniel Craig’s bulging pecs. They then leveraged 007’s star-power in their advertising with great success.
Other top-shelf brands that have jumped into bed with Bond’s latest film include Aston Martin (of course), Range Rover and Belvedere vodka. Instead of me explaining what value these brands see in having the Bond affiliation, here’s a nice man from Belvedere in a video chatting about it;
So what do you think? Is product placement in feature films just another example of commercialism gone mad? Or is it just ‘branded content’ that’s been around since before anyone invented the term ‘branded content’? I’m going to sit here and sip on this velvety-smooth glass of Baileys and ponder the possibilities.
Nick Ikonomou is a Senior Writer at BCM