Yahoo! is hosting an article on the product placement in “Die Another Day” – and it’s really worth reading it. More than 20 products are going to be presented in the next Bond flick, and the cameo of Roger Moore’s daughter Deborah will be in the role of a British Airways Stewardess.
Bond series ad vehicle churns again
The name’s Bond, James Bond – sales rep for Ford Motor, Omega watches, Philips shavers and Samsonite luggage.
The legendary secret service agent, who returns to the screen next month in Die Another Day, has been licensed to promote a host of products – from champagne to 7 UP – in the latest and, arguably, most blatant advertising vehicle of the Bond series.
Some of the world’s leading consumer companies are planning an international marketing drive behind the 20th instalment of the Bond series, the most successful franchise in movie history.
The film’s premiere, in Los Angeles and London, follows years of negotiations over sophisticated “contra-marketing” and barter deals with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the US distributor of 007, and Eon Productions, the film-maker controlled by the Broccoli family, which has produced 19 Bond films since 1962.
Under these deals, film-makers place products in movies in return for promotion and advertising before and after release. Eon, which has yet to deliver the final print of Die Another Day, insists “corporate associates” pay only a nominal fee for placements. MGM would not comment.
The growing influence and visibility of Bond’s “promotional partners” – including British Airways, Kodak and Kenwood – have begun to disturb die-hard fans.
Graham Rye, editor and publisher of 007 Magazine, says: “They have gone over the top. The whole thing is marketing driven – the original movies were unique in action cinema, but it’s now become something of a pastiche.”
Laurent Perriot, founder of Paris-based Club James Bond, adds: “It’s important for the movie to have money from these companies, but the problem is when the product becomes more important than the character.”
However, product promotion has become a regular feature of big budget movies to help offset costs. Analysts, who estimate Die Another Day has cost almost $100m to produce, describe corporate tie-ups and merchandising as a legitimate tool to reduce investment risk.
“Some studios can spend as much on marketing a movie as shooting it, so corporate partners play an important role in promoting the picture,” said a London-based media analyst.
Goldman Sachs estimates that “after all fees the average Bond film contributes more than $100m to MGM’s pre-tax earnings”. It is also a lucrative exercise for Danjaq, the Swiss-registered group behind Eon Productions. The Broccoli family company is thought to retain 20-25 per cent in revenues and net profits from Bond, which has so far grossed more than $3bn worldwide.
That audience appeal has prompted fierce competition among companies seeking 007’s endorsement.
Finlandia Vodka, for example, has displaced Smirnoff in James’s drinks cabinet. BMW of Germany took the ejector seat after Ford Motor persuaded the producers to reintroduce its Aston Martin sports car as his favourite getaway. The carmaker also supplied Jaguars and Ford Thunderbirds in return for promoting the film.
Similarly, Sony won an agreement that all audio-visual appliances in the movie would bear its name. T.Scott Edwards of Sony Electronics, says: “I negotiated the barter deal with MGM, where we gave them a lot of products in exchange for being able to use James Bond licensing rights in retail promotions.”
British Airways offered a 747 jet for filming on the understanding that its first class cabin would feature in the final cut. The daughter of Roger Moore, a former Bond, has a walk-on part as a BA stewardess.
The airline ran a US advertising campaign “Save your moneypennys, fly like Bond”, and won early rights to screen the film on flights.
Philips, the Dutch electronics and consumer products group, went even further by securing private screenings for top clients after placing its latest shaver in Bond’s bathroom. In a sign of the importance of corporate backers, Philips executives saw the film script before production began.
Lex de Rooy of Philips says the company had no influence over the plot, but adds: “It’s going to be a massive marketing machine and it’s just getting up steam.”