Let me take an aside and talk about how much I am a fan of James Bond. There was a magical time when there were these things called video stores where you could go and rent video cassettes.* I want to say that there was a deal on Wednesdays or Thursdays where the rentals were really cheap and you could have them for the weekend. In any case the family kind of went through a phase where we watching a different James Bond movie a week. I think I was particularly interested because a video game was released about the same time that some have called one of the greatest video games of all time Goldeneye 007 . But I think the appeal of a 007 movie is that you know the formula walking into it. Like a typical action movie but with a semblance of class, of real machismo. I suppose that is the general formula for any action movie though.
1. Bad guy does something nefarious
2. Good guy tries to stop bad guy
3. First confrontation loss
4. Good guy recovers and has an awesome montage
5. Good guy gets better with help from romantic interest
6. Something happens to romantic interest
7. Good guy gets fired up and confronts bad guy again
8. Short lived victory then bad guy looks to completely triumph
9. Good guy remembers something from his montage/help from romantic interest
10. Good guy triumphs and hooks up with the romantic interest
In this perspective, James Bond is not unlike too many other action characters.*** From what I remember, the James bond books were born out of the romantic period of espionage. When there was idea that there were spies running some sort of complex web of information, assassination, and sexiness. And he was British! I’m a big fan of the British. Likely based on the history, the football, the accent (obviously), or James Bond. The movies were cool, James Bond wore a suit, was one of my first exposure to puns and drank cocktails rather than beer, slept with pretty women with clever names. James Bond did amazing things in sleek foreign cars, had unique gadgets, got out of impossible jams with a combination of intelligence, skill, and a bit of luck. What was there not to like?
*Thank goodness we haven’t talked about Blockbuster v Netflix in MBA school yet. That case was beat to death. TO DEATH! But now every business major/minor knows that you have to consider the internet as a new tool for delivering goods. Also to make sure that you are aware of new technologies and adapt to them. No company or industry is safe from small companies with innovation. DUH!!**
**I say “duh”, but that is not to say that there weren’t people at Blockbuster who didn’t lose millions of dollars and franchisees that lost everything because Blockbuster was ill-equipped to rapidly adapt to the new environment. A lot of executives who were either too stubborn or too blind to make that change. It was similar to the change when Blockbuster was stuck with millions of VHS tapes when making the transition to DVDs. Think of the investment that was essentially obsolete within a year or two and needed to be (expensively) replaced.
As a marketer, there is everything to love about James Bond. As I have outlined above, there is a given formula for the movies. Writers can be clever but again it would only be within the same, proven action movie formula. James Bond provides a rather steady sort of income for whomever currently holds the rights. A set of actors and a company would take over for several movies and then it would pass on to the next generation, the next group to try and build upon. Sequels are a much safer bet than something new an original. And should you have the unique opportunity to have the rights to the franchise, especially a long living franchise, a significant amount of money is coming your way, despite the quality. **** James Bond is significant that every generation seems to have its own James Bond. And that puts the proverbial and literal butts in the seats. The stories have been compelling enough to keep people interested and while Skyfall has not been critically acclaimed, it has had good general reviews among the populace. One of the nice gauges that I like to look at is RottenTomatoes which rates movies based on “freshness” which is a nice simple tool and it is not singularly biased on a reviewer, rather, takes the accumulation of many people’s ratings. (Skyfall is sitting at 91%).
***There are several terrific movie rating sites. RottenTomatoes among them. But as I’ve said before, with so much media and so much information out there, it is important to define your media mavens, those sources of information on which you can reliably trust. For movies, may I make a recommendation to check out Tony’s movie review tumblr. I like the reviews, Tony is a fantastic writer and funny to boot (at times). Worth a look if you have the time.
****Just look at Star Wars. While that franchise has not changed hands save for the recent sale to Disney, the franchise itself had quite the revenue stream recently with the “prequels”. These first three films were roundly criticized for the cheapness and how the story was not as epic, too convenient, and ultimately not up to the standards of the original trilogy. But I’ll be damned if I did not watch all of them, follow the buildup to the release of the next movie, and explicitly love certain parts. I, as with most people, are drawn to see what happens next in story, despite good or bad. Especially if it is something that was very engaging, very much tied to a ideal. Generational, fandom, a number of other mental ties.
So what does that all mean? The main point I’m trying to get at is that James Bond may be an example of the ideal marketing model. James has the cars (Aston Martin & BMW), the signature drink (Vesper Martini*****) , the suits (Tom Ford this time), and one that I didn’t realize was the tourism. I was intrigued by the world travelling Bond, all those exotic locales around Europe does indeed paint a romantic picture of some already beautiful spots. In Skyfall, MI6 had a Sony Vaio computers and systems and for once, Bond stepped out of the cocktails and had a beer, specifically Heineken. I’ve included some of the commercials below for your perusal. We also got to see a couple of Audis driving around. And why not? What safer investment could there be to see an iconic franchise (in its 50th year and 23rd film) using your goods. For the price of several million dollars (I would imagine, don’t quote me on that) your brand will be seen by hundreds of millions of people. And when the DVD comes out, those same people probably several times. Bond is sexy, classy, and almost universally While occasionally I would roll my eyes at the blatant product placement, it didn’t take me too much outside of the movie. Finally there is the song. Each Bond movie has an iconic singer perform the opening song and this time, using Adele (also below). A chance to tie in the another industry while leveraging your core competency (in this case Bond as an icon). More moneeeeeyz for everyone!