Claire Beale on Advertising: The name's Bond – and I'm licensed to sell

 

It's 50 years since James Bond made his film debut and the world's most famous secret agent has being having a not-so-secret affair with big brands ever since. From the watches, the beers and the cars that pay top dollar to feature as Bond's brands of choice in his movies, to the ads that have shamelessly appropriated some 007 cool, Ian Fleming's hero has probably sold more products than any other fictional character.

The latest Bond movie Skyfall is reported to have made almost a third of its total £90m budget from product placement deals with brands such as Heineken, Omega and Sony, and Bond-themed merchandise is to be found in almost every product category that can claim an association with style and glamour. Procter & Gamble has just launched a 007 scent for men "which embodies the duality of Bond; an opulent blend of sophistication and masculinity."

So it's no coincidence, perhaps, that when it comes to creating the iconic title sequences for the 007 movies, Eon Productions, makers of the Bond films, have turned to the ad industry for inspiration. Daniel Kleinman, founder of commercials production company Rattling Stick, is one of advertising's most successful and awarded commercials directors and has directed the titles at the start of Bond films for more than a decade.

But Bond has inspired adland too. Advertising creatives have never been slow to borrow from popular culture and in Bond they found the perfect shorthand for smooth, sexy and excitingly dangerous. When you've only got a 30-second ad in which to tell a story, being able to associate your brand with a set of ready-made qualities that consumers are already familiar with is a powerful tool.

One of Bond's most famous advertising legacies is the Milk Tray Man, the suave daredevil who risked life and limb to deliver his lady a box of chocs. The shameless 007 referencing created a back story for the mysterious, black-clad figure that lent him (and his box of chocolates) a glamour that for a while made Milk Tray appear the indulgence of choice for the jet set.

In the 90s Barclaycard spoofed Bond, using Rowan Atkinson as a hapless spy. In a neat twist, the spy-movie-inspired credit-card ads went on to spark a new movie franchise when Atkinson took the character to the big screen as Johnny English.

Even brand Britain has just launched a new global ad campaign fronted by Daniel Craig's Bond in a bid to boost tourism. The love affair between Bond and brands is, it seems, as passionate as ever.

Claire Beale is editor of 'Campaign'

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