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Buy Another Day: Product Placements in the James Bond Franchise

There are a few things we can always expect from a Bond film; dramatic plot twists, exotic lands, tense shoot-outs and at least a couple of beautiful love interests. It’s no secret that product placement has come to be interwoven in these themes thanks to brands that are desperate to be associated with the world’s most famous spy. Bond is suave, intelligent and a symbol of masculinity – a perfect character with which to model products that rely on a status of ‘cool’, from cigars or sunglasses to cars and beers. Exactly how well brands benefit from paying millions to promote their products in Bond movies is far from clear-cut, but what is clear is that studios have come to rely on such partnerships to fund the production of Bond movies. Hate it or tolerate it, product placement in the Bond franchise is here to stay.

Walther PPK has been Bond’s gun of choice throughout the franchise ever since he traded in his Beretta 418 in Dr No. Airlines have also cashed in on the franchise’s product placement opportunities, as evidenced by deliberate shots of Virgin Atlantic and Pan American planes. The books had Bond play a game of Baccarat against Le Chiffre, yet Craig’s Casino Royale focused around Texas Hold’Em, no doubt in response to the poker variant’s surge in popularity over the past couple of decades. It was reported that PokerStars, one of the biggest online poker rooms, even came close to becoming an official partner in a deal that would have seen the poker brand’s logo in various parts of the casino in which Bond and Le Chiffre competed, but the deal fell through in the final stages. One of the weirder product placements can be found in Goldfinger; a shot of pre-abbreviation Kentucky Fried Chicken when Felix is parked outside the KFC restaurant in what must have been a finger-lickin’ deal for the fast food chain.

No Bond film would be complete without an exhilarating and highly improbable car chase. Typically fitted with special features of Q’s choosing; Bond’s cars feature anything from trajectory seats to machine guns and rocket launchers. BMWs have featured heavily through the franchise, but Aston Martin is undoubtedly the brand we associate most with the suave spy. We see the luxury sport car appear in twelve Bond films, including Casino Royale where Craig’s Aston Martin is subject to a spectacular crash. Apparently it took three Aston Martins to get the shot right – subsequently setting the record for highest ever number of barrel-rolls by a car. Both Land Rovers and Jaguars have made appearances in the franchise.

Besides exploding alarm clocks and laser pens, Bond does occasionally use some more conventional devices. Since Sony Pictures Entertainment acquired distribution rights to the franchise, the films have been heavily laced with Sony product placement, from the excessive use of Sony TVs and cameras, to the bizarre fact that everyone in the film seems to own a Sony Ericsson. One might have half-expected the next film to feature Craig on the PlayStation, except reports indicate Spectre may well be the last Bond film made at Sony studios. Other electronic brands featured in the include Olympus cameras and VAIO laptops.

Then of course there are the drinks Bond chooses to refresh with. Ever since Ian Fleming introduced the Vesper Martini in his first Bond novel, Casino Royale, we’ve been accustomed to hearing Bond order his signature drink ‘shaken, not stirred’. There have been a few exceptions to the tradition, however, including a brief stint with Jamaican lager Red Stripe and, more recently, a fondness for Heineken. The popular beer brand struck one of the most expensive product placement deals in history when they paid £45 million to have Bond drink Heineken in Skyfall, accounting for a third of the movie’s budget. Other drink manufacturers that have partnered with the franchise include Coca Cola and 7Up.

Casino Royale’s painfully unsubtle scene in which Vesper Lynd questions Bond as to the make of his watch is often used as a prime example of the franchise’s excessive product placement. The Omega, besides being verbally referenced, has several close-ups in the films and has become known as Bond’s watch of choice, despite Fleming originally having intended for the spy to wear Rolex. Being a style icon; Bond’s sleek suits and stylish outdoors wear is made up of a number of expensive brands, including Cashmere, Tom Ford and Barbour. In fact, there’s a whole website dedicated to the fashion brands worn by Bond. As for the healthy glow and smokey eyes of Bond girls, M.A.C and L’Oreal cosmetics have come to be the prime provider of makeup products.