History of Product Placement in James Bond Films

007 james bond product placement
London, England - October 11, 2012: James Bond 007 Personalised Number Plate on a Sports Car

James Bond has always been as synonymous with brand placement as he has with high-speed car chases and supermodel girlfriends. Even in the original Bond books, 007 used a Beretta pistol, an Italian firearm widely believed to be Bond’s first weapon of choice, along with mentions of Gordon’s Gin, Moreland Cigarettes and Bentley motors. When Bond made its move to the big screen, the Walther PPK replaced the Beretta 418 in Dr No, and countless other products started to feature in the 007 films, as time went on.

Over the years, there have been many successful product placements that fit naturally in the Bond movies. Others, such as Pierce Brosnan ramming a tank through a perfectly framed Perrier truck in the 1995 Bond epic Goldeneye, left many fans cringing. While you can view product placement and brand features in the Bond movies however you like, one thing is certain, without them James Bond, as we know him, would not exist today. In fact, during the making of Skyfall, Daniel Craig said, “The simple fact is that, without (product placement), we couldn’t do it.” The Bond star added, “It’s unfortunate but that’s how it is.”

Let’s take a look at a timeline of the product placements in the 007 movies that have helped them to become the iconic films that they are today.

Product Placement in the Sean Connery Bond Era

For many fans, Sean Connery was the most iconic and memorable actor to play the role of James Bond. Starring in a total of seven Bond movies, five between 1962 and 1967, and two more films later in his career, product placement began with Connery’s depiction of the famous secret agent. Although brand placement was nowhere near what it is today, there were a number of blatant product placements in Dr No and Connory’s later movies.

In the 1962 movie Dr No, James Bond used to drink Red Stripe pale lager, instead of his signature vodka martini which wasn’t introduced until later in the Bond franchise. Pan Am, Smirnoff, Smith and Wesson all made appearances in the very first 007 screening.

Playing Bond again in From Russia To Love (1963), Sean Connery was unusually flown from London to Istanbul with US-based airline Pan Am and the movie also featured product placements from Ever Ready. It was in Goldfinger in 1964, however, that things really picked up. Aston Martin, Bentley Motors, Rolex, KFC, Slazenger, Dunlop Sport, Aviation Traders Caviar, Harris Equipment, Ford Mustang, Rolls Royce, and a range of other brands featured in the iconic movie, encouraging more product placement in Sean Connery’s appearance in You Only Live Twice in 1967, where brands such as Sony, Toshiba and Hilton decided to get in on the action.

Product Placement In “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969)

Although George Lazenby only had one outing as 007, the 1969 film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, featured countless cameos from a range of brands. Some of the standout product placements are Bond reading an issue of Playboy magazine, BP and Gillette making an appearance on advertising boards in the movie and of course, the Aston Martin DBS which replaced the Toyota 2000GT that Connery drives in the 1967 Bond film You Only Live Twice.

Bond Product Placement In The Bond Movies From 1971 to 1985

Sean Connery began the 70’s as Bond, playing 007 in the 1971 movie Diamonds Are Forever. From Live And Let Die in 1973 all the way through to a View To Kill in 1983, Roger Moore was the only actor to play Bond until his final showing in A View to Kill in 1985, with the exception of Sean Connery’s last starring Bond appearance in Never Say Never Again in 1983.

This Bond era brought even more big brands to the screen. By now James Bond was an established figure and the brand that he used help to define his charisma, style, character and tastes. Audiences began associating Bond with impeccable style, the latest gadgets, nicest cars and the finer things in life. This image created the perfect opportunity for the products and brands such as Bollinger, Cadillac, Rolex, Panasonic, Marlboro, Dom Perignon, British Airways, Bentley, Mercedes Benz, Seiko and others to feature in the ever-popular 007 movies.

Product Placement From Timothy Dalton To Pierce Brosnan

Timothy Dalton took over the 007 mantle in 1987, with his first appearance as the secret agent in The Living Daylights, appearing again in License To Kill in 1989. Irish actor Pierce Brosnan appeared in the following four Bond movies; Goldeneye (1995), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World Is Not Enough (1999) and Die Another Day (2002).

This was a period where many argued that some of the Bond product placements and even some of the scenes were becoming a little too far-fetched, even for 007! Brosnan hang-gliding off a glacier in Die Another Day certainly comes to mind, as does Dalton’s escape in a cello case in The Living Daylights movie. Product placement reportedly brought in more than $100 million in Die Another Day with Ford paying more than $35 million to put James Bond back behind the wheel of an Aston Martin, after driving a BMW in the previous three movies. For many viewers and critics, Die Another Day took product placement too far, with many dubbing the movie “Buy Another Day”.

The Modern-Day Daniel Craig Bond Brand

In the latest string of Bond movies including Casino Royale in 2006, 1008’s Quantum Of Solace, Skyfall in 2012 and Spectre in 2015, the most recent addition to the franchise in 2015, Daniel Craig has exclusively played the role of 007.

Nowadays, brands realise that the brand is Bond. If they want their products to feature, it will cost, and these days, it can cost a lot! The list of products and brands that feature in the Daniel Craig era is endless, however, the impact of featuring in these movies is arguably unmeasurable for a brand’s reputation. For example, in Casino Royale, Bond is asked if his watch is a Rolex, to which he simply replies “Omega”. This gives Omega serious credibility, helping to increase the brand’s exposure and having a significant influence on sales.

Looking To The Future Of Product Placement In Bond Movies

Money talks in the modern movie world. To produce Skyfall, Heineken reportedly forked over $45 million dollars, to have James Bond feature exclusively in their adverts but for their beer to feature just once in the movie. While some brands have stayed with Bond for years, others have come and gone as the franchise has evolved. However, with more brands wanting to align with the Bond Brand, there are likely to be more product placements than ever before in the 007 movies going forward.

As time goes on, products evolve and customer behaviours change, it will be interesting to see what product placements we will see in the Bond movies of the future. Could we see Bond dishing the caviar for a vegan substitute? How about swapping his Aston Martin for an EV? Or trading in his signature vodka Martini for a flat white? However, things continue with product placement in the Bond franchise, one thing is certain, 007 will always ooze class, sophistication and style, allowing the movies to attract the biggest brands to help finance these iconic movies.

What do you think?

Written by Noelle Kelly

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