Shaking Up Bond, James Bond.

November 9, 2012

Over the past 50 years, seven actors have played James Bond in 23 movies, grossing more than $13 billion dollars.

The world’s favorite secret agent has visited more than 50 countries, and his global appeal has been used to market many consumer products across the years, from champagne to cars to watches and more.

What makes James Bond so appealing to marketers?

  • The gentleman agent remains a cultural icon and therefore un-aged. (Fun fact: If Bond were a person, he would be pushing 90.) His iconic status allows the character to be played by younger and more toned actors a la Daniel Craig.
  • One word: Audience. There’s risk that a franchise may lose relevance with a new audience, but the fantasy of Bond is fluid and adaptable, allowing advertisers to shape today’s ideal of Bond to reach their target audience.
  • James Bond can sell a brand. He has major credibility with a range of consumer products, including booze, weapons, women, gadgets and cars. That list keeps Bond marketable and his endorsement credible for a fictional character.
  • Content Opportunities. Bond offers marketers a variety of outlets to reach consumers and create content through ads, product placement (furthering credibility), spokesperson and partnership opportunities, ideas around various missions or movie locations, guerrilla marketing and more. For many brands, integrated programs are king and widely appealing, highly recognizable characters cannot be underestimated.

James Bond has been the face of everything from luxury brands like Aston Martin to everyday consumer products like Coke Zero and Heineken. Check out half a century of James Bond marketing below.

1962-1967 (and 1971)
Sean Connery is my favorite James Bond. Hands down. It seems only fitting that the classic Bond would be the face of Jim Beam.

1969
George Lazenby was James Bond and therefore part of the franchise. However, his haphazard performance led to very little advertising opportunities.

1973-1985
The longest serving James Bond actor is Roger Moore. He starred in seven films and spent 12 years as 007. Moore found success moving the character away from Connery’s Bond and lent his charm and distinct taste to brands like Spectravideo (1980’s computer-thing), Rolex and Bollinger.

1987-1989
Timothy Dalton’s Bond stint was short lived. The actor starred in two movies and Dalton’s Bond differed from his predecessors’… movies and marketing alike.

A rather thorough sweep on Google was disappointing. It appears Dalton was featured on various collector’s items and posters but didn’t receive many endorsement perks.

1995-2002
Pierce Brosnan’s time as James Bond marked a shift from traditional ads to expanded marketing, including video games. GoldenEye 007 sold approximately eight million copies worldwide and was one of the best selling Nintendo 64 games.

The actor also lended Bond’s suave persona to BMW, Omega and Jose Cuervo, helping the brands reach a key audience – men who aspire to have the same classic, distinct taste in “toys” as James Bond.

2006-Present
Today, Daniel Craig has brought Bond to a new place with marketers and expanded opportunities for brands to reach consumers. Increased marketing surrounding the franchise has shaken up James’ drink order by including Heineken as one of his preferred beverages, made Bond (or Bond girls) marketable for women’s products and increased integrated campaign and partnership opportunities. Bond also is being used to promote tourism in Great Britain! True to form, Daniel Craig’s Bond represents a 50-year-old franchise transformed by today’s marketing and advertising practices. Not surprisingly, video has a larger role in Bond marketing during Craig’s time as the gentleman agent.