The name is Bond, James Bond. Arguably the most famous British man on earth, certainly the most desirable and one of the strongest brands currently in existence.
Ian Fleming’s fictional British Secret Service agent 007 has come to embody all that is suave, sophisticated and just plain cool. Men want to be Bond and women want to be with him. He is a marketer's dream. His words become iconic quotes, his reputation legendary and his impact on brands has proven to be invaluable. I mean has anyone ever ordered a stirred Martini?
As a brand property the opportunities are endless, so it is no surprise that the latest Bond film Skyfall is dripping in product placement as brands scramble to be associated with the Bond juggernaut.
From stylish suits (Tom Ford), elegant watches (Omega), cool gadgets (Sony), and fast cars (Audi and Aston Martin) to his choice of drink, which is no longer just a vodka martini as Bond now also enjoys sucking back Heineken and Coke Zero - Bond is the ultimate brand ambassador.
The brands associated with the film have invested millions for the privilege and have subsequently spent more money ensuring everyone knows about it. A slew of brand campaigns looking to leverage off the film and its iconic character have launched around the world. All these campaigns draw on the iconic character, some create Bond-style storylines, some use actual footage and some have enlisted the latest Bond, Daniel Craig to star in the ads.
Yet only one brand, Heineken, went to the trouble of creating an immersive branded entertainment campaign, with the other sponsors opting to let the film’s action provide the entertainment for the marketing. Heineken launched an integrated campaign ‘Crack the Case’ featuring Daniel Craig and Skyfall Bond girl Bérénice Marlohe. The TV, print and digital campaign, incorporates an interactive game experience, which picks up where the TV ad ends inviting viewers to take part in a number of challenges to crack the case. As part of the campaign, Heineken will host exclusive experiences in iconic locations giving consumers the opportunity to compete in challenges to win prizes.
Omega released a trailer-style TV campaign to promote the seamaster Planet Ocean watch worn by Bond in Skyfall. The TV is supported by print advertising, as well as promotions across the website and a dedicated issue of Omega’s exclusive lifestyle magazine Lifetime.
Aston Martin opted to pass on the big marketing spend, instead using PR, its website and the content created by the Skyfall marketing team to ride the waves of the films. A healthy amount of content and coverage has been doing the rounds about the DB5 model used in the film.
Coke created a campaign empowering people to be James Bond with a stunt in Antwerp Central Train Station in Belgium. Consumers buying a Coke from a vending machine were then given the chance to win tickets to Skyfall, all they had to do was race to a platform in 70 seconds. The participants had to avoid sexy decoys, a pane of glass, suitcases, dogs and more, as they raced through the station accompanied by buskers singing the iconic Bond theme song. The 'Unlock 007 in You' stunt was supported by a TV campaign.
Great Britain Tourism agency VisitBritian’s campaign did not miss a trick with its Bond marketing campaign tapping into the hype and interest in the latest film with cinema, press and outdoor advertising all carrying the tagline ‘Bond is GREAT Britain’. VisitBritian said the campaign, which is running across 21 countries, 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.”
Sony launched a global advertising campaign ‘Intelligence Gathered’, to promote a range of Sony Technology. The campaign was spearheaded by a TV ad featuring Craig as Bond and showcasing Sony equipment such as TVs, laptops, tablets and smartphones. The ad is supported by print and digital, along with social media and is running in 26 markets. Sony has also launched dedicated product ads in individual markets. Gildas Pelliet, Head of Marketing at Sony Europe, said: “Our latest suite of Sony’s products in the film and TV advertising campaign are not only the perfect fit for Bond but also the perfect way to show them in action.”
Bond is the ultimate vehicle for brands. A universally appealing, iconic character that embodies so many of the attributes brands aspire to: desirable, attractive and cool. Even the darker, aggressive and brooding edge that Daniel Craig has brought to the character has not dented its appeal with brands.
As a strategy hitching your brand to the 007 franchise is a strong one and you can see the appeal for so many brands.
Even the Queen got on board with the 007 stunt in the Olympic Opening ceremony – which was arguably the first stage of VisitBritain’s 'Bond is Great Britain' campaign. This activity is a brilliant strategy for Great Britain, riding on the coat tails of the Olympics and a magical time for the nation, Bond serves to reinvigorate the country's tourism injecting an exciting energy and a sense of cool. The strategy is very much about capturing the excitement of the film and positioning Great Britain as the place to find that – as well as tying’s Bond’s qualities to Britain.
A style icon, Bond is desirable to many and his association with Omega, now in its seventh year, has clearly been a strong one. The notion of the spy and his watch is classic iconography. Omega fits seamlessly with the suave Bond as a ladies man characters brought to life by Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan. However, Craig’s portrayal also brings a new edge to the watches, taking Omega beyond the stylish accessory to also showcase a robust quality and a reliability - these watches can go through car crashes and explosions and still tell the time and look great.
For Sony the appeal is clear, Bond is the ultimate gadget man and there’s no better way to promote the brand and its products as high tech, state of the art and futuristic. Bond is smart, so the integration of Sony products suggests the products are too. It also provides Sony with a bit of edge and desirability which aren’t usually associated with the brand.
It is harder though to see the links to Coke Zero and Heineken, which suggest the strategy here lies with the mass appeal of the Bond franchise and its ability to target the desired target market of young men.
Both Coke and Heineken skew heavily towards young males who are the typical target market for these films. Both campaigns focus on blokes and feature their fair share of Bond girls and sexy women. While Heineken has a 15 year relationship with James Bond, It is only Coke’s second year on board the franchise. These brands are tapping into the cool factor of the film and their target audiences desire to be like Bond.
As a vehicle for brands, there is no denying the appeal and success that brands have achieved with the Bond franchise, but it is through sponsorship, product placement and marketing. Skyfall presents huge opportunities to create branded entertainment campaigns that could stretch across channels and create immersive experiences for fans, but to date none of the brands have backed up their hefty investments with any such experiences.
However, given the high level of brand mentions and product placements in the film it does beg the question, is Skyfall a branded entertainment experience?
Given the nature of the relationships between the story and the brands, it is sometimes hard to know where the movie ends and where the brand or product marketing begins. Obviously from the brand perspective this is a big win, but does it undermine the Bond character and the film's integrity?
These brand campaigns all draw heavily on Bond content and exploit the character, the actors and the plotlines - many of the campaigns use actual footage. In some cases it takes time to work out you are watching an ad, rather than the film. With the brands so well embedded into the story - particularly Aston Martin - is Skyfall actually an immensely successful brand campaign?
As Branded Entertainment goes, Skyfall is the king. 007 is the ultimate brand ambassador and all the brands associated with the film are guareenteed to reap the benefits. But where does the brand involvement end and the story begin?