Joe’s Blog

SoldFinger – Bond Product Placement Part 1

October 24, 2012 7:25 am

The release of a new Bond movie movie inevitably leads to a slew of useless column-inch-filling ‘news’ stories, and TV puff pieces. This is understandable, as it pulls in viewers and site hits to your organisation. Fair enough. It’s just so annoying that 99% of them are utter bobbins.

This week, there’s been a story about Stoke Park hotel (where Goldfinger’s golf game was filmed) accidentally sending a snarky email to a couple who wanted to marry there, saying they didn’t think they were the “right sort of people” to pay a huge sum of money for the privilege of marrying there. Interesting story, until you realise this happened in April. So either the couple took six months to decide they wanted to go to the papers, or, and more likely, the newspaper in question sat on the story until it became topical, like when a new Bond movie is about to be released.

But by far, the most irritating story of the past month (and one which astonishingly refuses to die) relates to the excessive product placement in the new film, Skyfall. More specifically, it regards a tie-in with Heineken lager. Dear lord! I heard just this morning, that the piss-weak cooking lager have paid $40 million to feature their product in the film, and Bond HAS to have a pint of the fizzy shit.

This story first appeared a month ago, and drew “outrage” from fans. Allegedly.

What it actually drew was pretend outrage from the media. The fans all shrugged their shoulders and said “but there’s always been product placement in the films”. Less importantly, some people were outraged, but would normally preface their response with something like “I stopped watching Bond films years ago, BUT…” and would then proclaim their outrage that a film series they no longer care about will feature a glass of Heineken, somewhere, in a film they are not even going to watch.

These people are morons. As are the outraged journalists (let’s not forget newspapers and TV shows NEVER take the advertising bung and slip products into news stories (advertorials) or TV shows). Most of the journos who write Bond-related stories are not film fans, let alone Bond fans, and stories are routinely riddled with the kind of errors that a very quick trip to imdb would rectify. So, sod ‘em, they are not worth wasting time on here.

But for those who may be genuinely outraged at Bond sipping a beer in Skyfall, let’s not forget this isn’t the first time Del Boy Bond has stuffed his pockets in the name of art and commerce.

 Dr No (1962)

Journos… have a look at this picture and tell me what you see?

Is that a big, BIG stack of beer in boxes? I think it might be.

History (or rather Google) does not recall what “Gennsone and Gedeges” was. Perhaps it was another tie-in that fell through at the last minute. Or a genuine Jamaican hookey cigarette maker.

 

From Russia With Love (1963)

Not the best, or most effective piece of product placement in the history of cinema, but the kind of brazenness that only Broccoli and Saltzman could display, certainly at the time.

‘Call Me Bwana’ was another film the showman pair were producing at the same time. So what better way to promote it than to have a great big bloody advert for it in the middle of another film.

Not really an effective, or profitable, piece of product placement, but a genius piece of marketing.

Goldfinger (1964)

Nuff said.

Thunderball (1965)

With a massive increase of technology and toys for Bond to play with (cos he’s a bit of a shit spy with just his fists and a gun), came more opportunities for companies to flog their tat at a captive audience.

The main toy this time was an underwater camera. Chances are you’ve probably got a camera in your phone that could photos on the sun, but back in the day the idea of a camera that could (in Q’s words) take photos in the dark with an infrared lens was astonishing.

Olympus supplied a prototype for the film.

He would also get the first of what would become a mainstay of the franchise: a watch.

This one is not as fondly remembered as its successors, but it’s important because it’s the first. The watch would normally prove pivotal at some point in the film, as it usually contained a vital gadget which would help Bond, but which had not actually been introduced to the audience beforehand (this happened twice in the Moore years in Live and Let Die and Moonraker) but which afforded an excellent close up of the brand name which would then be replicated in their advertising.

… and things carried on pretty much in this vein through the series until Bond hit the mother lode in 1979.

 

Moonraker (1979)

The list of product placement in the end credits of Moonraker is longer than the list of stunt people. Here are some of the lowlights.

The 7-Up sign also gets a tasty close-up when Jaws’ cable car crashes through it. What’s so awful about that is that the building that collapses is a model, so some poor sod in Derek Meddings’ special effects department had to make a scale model of an advert. Disgraceful.

Two for one, as Bond searches his shag accidentally on purpose leaves a drawer open in her hotel room. Interestingly, Air France also had prominent appearances, that rare example of competing companies appearing in the same film (have you ever seen Pepsi and Coke in the same film?).

The amazing Seiko Deux Ex Machina.

But the absolute pits of this absolute pits of a film is a ludicrous sequence (which makes no sense narratively) where Bond and GoodBlow are kidnapped by paramedics and carried away in an ambulance. As Bond makes his escape (leaving the woman at the mercy of the kidnappers, the bastard), we keep cutting to external shots of the ambulance passing one

billboard after

another until one sees off a bad guy

Ho ho ho.

This was actually the film that taught me what product placement was. Thanks dad.

And since this is supposed to be in Brazil, shouldn’t these ads all be in Portuguese?

 

Bizarrely, Moonraker doesn’t feature the Lotus Esprit which had proved so popular in the previous film, The Spy Who Loved Me. It would reappear in For Your Eyes Only, where it promptly blows up.

Speaking of which…

 

A View to a Kill (1985)

Roger Moore’s long overdue swansong features some of the more bizarre product placement.

God knows how much Renault paid to furnish Bond with a car for his jaunt around Paris, but surely it wasn’t worth the indignity of seeing your product being driven by a stereotypical humourless cabbie, and then smashed to pieces, rather too easily, by Bond.

All this scene needed was a man in a cafe saying “Nicole?” as Bond sped past. If that ad campaign existed five years earlier.

Rather more bizarre, and a sign of the desperate measures the producers were resorting to to get the products on screen, was the idea that a spirit manufacturer would be happy to see a psychotic villain using their product as a molotov cocktail.

In the film, Chris Walken tilts the bottle so you can see the label more clearly.

There’s also Bond’s lock pick hidden in a Sharper Image store card! Well at least we now know where he gets his gadgets from when Q isn’t around.

The Living Daylights (1987)

Well, lookey what we got here:

By the way, I think this is bloody awful.

The scene in the film, where Bond meets his content at a cafe in a fairground, is filled to bursting with Carlsberg logos, and his mate is quaffing a pint. It’s horrible. It also doesn’t affect the film, as it ends with a truly shocking moment. You remember THAT bit, not the horrible, crow-barred product placement.

Licence To Kill (1989)

This may well be my favourite bit of product placement in a Bond film ever.

It’s a clunky bit of product placement (because as any Bond nerd knows, Bond would never lower himself to smoke an American cigarette), but it’s a bit neat.

And best of all, it resulted in a government health warning being added to the end credits of the film! Yes, it’s fine that this psycho can go around the world murdering people, drinking too much, having unprotected sex and driving like a lunatic. But, dear lord, he shouldn’t smoke!

Apparently, it was judged (by whom, I’m not sure) that the sight of Bond using a gadget encased in a cigarette packet would lead kids to fags.

Whereas this is fine…

Right I’m off for a quick hand blended Morland.

When I return I’ll look at now New Bond (TM) in the 1990s and beyond would take product placement into the stratosphere…

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