Has James Bond become too commercial?

The latest James Bond film Skyfall’s high product placement is attracting criticism. Devote 2 minutes to listen to Dow Jones‘s Nick Hastings questioning if 007 has gone too corporate:

When it comes to Quantum of Solace that was released in 2008 I felt a bit like I was watching a computer made commercial. The fact that the plot is almost non existent also allows the person watching to interpret it any way he/she wants.  Just like a successful commercial.

What’s wrong with Vodka Martini – shaken not stirred?

Ian Flemming is most likely turning in his grave knowing Bond is now drinking Heineken beer. Watch previous Bonds order a “shaken – not stirred” 

Why didn’t the producers of Skyfall get a brand of vodka or Martini to sponsor the movie? “Shaken not stirred” is an essential and famous aspect of James Bond. Why did he suddenly have to start drinking beer? If Bond will wear, drive, eat and drink what sponsors want we risk being left with an agent that has nothing to do with the character Ian Flemming created.

Will Queen Elizabeth be associated with Heineken beer and Omega watches?

If the commercial aspect develops even more maybe Her Majesty needs to be careful about giving Bond movies indirect promotion.?If not, she could end up being associated with the sponsors’ products?

But the good news, not only for her but us as well, is that the famous Aston Martin Bond used to drive is back. Considering that Prince Charles drives a car of that make and that it’s another aspect of 007 that we have taken for granted it was welcome. The interesting aspect of it however is that Aston Martin is no longer just British but partly owned by a company in Kuwait.

Why change the Bond concept?

James Bond movies have been popular since 1962. They allow people to escape into a world where the handsome womaniser 007 is able to succeed with everything. Bond is elegant, surrounded by luxury and always wins. The Bond girls are stunning and all fall in love with Bond. At the end of the movies Bond was always making love to the Bond girl.

However,  since Daniel Craig took over as Bond changes to the concept has been implemented. Not only is Craig less of a gentleman and more of a street fighter he is also an attempt to make 007 movies more like other espionage creations, such as The Bourne Identity.

Casino Royal introduced feminism and then the movies became more and more commercial.

And why don’t the movies end with 007 and the Bond girl being happy together anymore? Do we really want the Bond movies to be just like all other action movies? The reason the movies have been so popular is after all that they serve us a dream with everything in them that people wish was part of their lives. They already drink beer and wear Addidas trainers. So what is there for the fans to dream of? Another Heineken beer?

What do you think? Should Bond be the James Bond Ian Flemming created and we have got to know over the years? Or should sponsors decide? Should he stick to “shaken not stirred” or is it more democratic that he drinks beer? Do you like the fact that the Bond movie plots are so thin lately you can interpret them any way you wish? Should 007 movies be democratic and feministic? Or do we want Bond to remain the unstoppable gentleman that gets the beautiful girl at the end? Or maybe you like the fact that Bond movies have become like commercials and the plots can be whatever you interpret them to be? Should they be just like any other action movie? Or should they stick to the Bond brand Ian Flemming created?

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44 responses

  1. I always prefer books over stories, so hey, books penned by Ian Fleming will always be there to turn to. I would have preferred Bond sticking to his drink – shaken not stirred. That said, whether we like it or not, advertisers rule.
    Or even if they don't things are changing. Archie got married to Vernonica, Superman quit being a journalist and became a digital writer and now James Bond slurps beer. I really wonder what next. Maybe Garfield will stop kicking Odie and Charlie Brown will become the hot Dude.
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    • Glad we agree Lubna. Don't you think it would have been possible for the producers to get a brand of vodka to sponsor them? Am sure they could have done so. What happened to the dream Bond movies conveyed when Bond is no longer a gentleman but more of a street fighter?

  2. I think it's cool that James Bond has become more of a reflection of contemporary culture which a greater number of us can relate to. Having him hang out in Monaco and sip martinis no longer will appeal to a really broad audience. I think realism is attracting a larger audience than escapism these days.
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  3. Ah… nothing stays the same, much though in some cases we would like it to. For better or for worse Bond is changing as well. Big sigh…
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  4. The image can be updated while maintaining integrity of story. At least in a perfect world it can. Instead they choose to sink to lower levels making it more homoginized. The better way would be to find a marketable vodka or even a gin (which would be the more British choice) instead they chose a dutch beer.

    We could blame this on the bigger world we now live in. But in the end, where does that leave us when our cultural icons are watered down so much that there is little left of what originally identified them?
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  5. Best about the latest film is we see an aging Bond, and the writers not only incorporated the new, but embrace the past. Yes, he drinks contemporary beer in addition to martinis, just like the writers pull in the vintage Astin Martin "M" said was uncomfortable to ride in and we got ejection seat humor–blending 50 yrs ago with today. The best part of this franchise is how Bond is humanized–especially since Craig assumed mantle–rather than Fleming's caricature. Spys must blend, not stand out by keeping with practices and products dated by half a century–a la Mad Men. As a writer, I honestly believe this latest Bond is the best ever. I didn't think they could ever match the initial chase scene in Casino Royale, but this film at met or topped it several times. More importantly, we get "M" as a whole entity–a tribute to a Ms. Dench's staggering talent, but also to a writing component smart enough to use character to fullest potential–and learned more about Bond and his history than we ever did in the 22 films ahead of Skyfall. The props just bring us into the present instead of keeping us over-obsessed with the past.

  6. The bond franchise has moved on from the original and product placement seems a part of many movies these days. I do agree that it is strange they didn't get a vodka sponsor as that is more in keeping with the image of James Bond.

    I haven't seen any of the bond movies with Daniel Craig but read he is signed up for another 4 or 5 I think. The new formula seems to work as audiences go to see it and the producers are obviously making money from it. It will be interesting to see how the franchise goes over the next few years.
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  7. I haven't seen the movie yet. I agree with you, some things should remain the same. I can't quite wrap myself around the beer versus the martini. I understand that they may need to bring the series up to more contemporary times but vodka martinis are making a huge comeback. The other features of the film you mentions sound interesting. If I go see it, I am interested to see how I may feel about it. :-). I'll let you know. :-)))
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  8. They should stick to the winning formula. Seriously, would it have been a stretch to the imagination to get vodka sponsorship as you suggested. I understand the need to market to a new generation but loosing the plot is another thing altogether!
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  9. I haven't seen the new Bond movie yet, but this weekend in the U.S. it became the highest grossing Bond movie ever. So the product placements don't seem to be turning off the movie-going public. I do think that certain things some remain sacrosanct. The phrase — "martinis should be stirred not shaken" — has become iconic. I read a piece today where fashionistas were debating whether Daniel Craig's suit was too tight. In the trailer it looks fine to me. But every aspect of this franchise comes under scrutiny when they release a new film.
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    • Good points that I agree with Jeannette. Why change a winning concept? The reason the movie going public goes to watch it is because the Bond concept is so popular. What will happen if they change it too much?

  10. Although I've not yet seen the latest one, I agree that the images for which Bond became famous (martinis, Aston, girls, gadgets) should remain sacrosanct. There's certainly no need for budget-cutting moves like product placement given the size of global audience. The producers need to ensure they keep the dream alive or risk killing the franchise off…

  11. Bond without a martini is just not on – especially Heineken!! Give me a break. I think it's good that he changes somewhat with the times – despite the fact I love all the Sean Connery movies, that level of sexism just isn't going to fly these days. But I know what you mean about him 'not getting the girl' part at the end – it was so much more fantasy than action hero. But I think there could be a middle ground and keep the Bond brand distinctive. Between MI & B identity -I think we have action covered. But hey – it's making money so Kudos to Barbara Broccoli who took over from her father.
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  12. I suppose I don't really care what he drinks … if it's a good plot and a well-told story, I would enjoy it. I remember in the 1970's James Bond used Scott ski poles. Do you think the Scott ski pole company paid for that?
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    • Thank you for giving us your opinon Leora. Agree with you that James Bond drinks is not of vast importance. Just don't understand why a successful hero needs to change. Not least since a lot of people object.

  13. I'm not a Bond fan, nor am I in favor of product placement. I guess like all characters, Bond needs to evolve with the times or risk alienating potential movie goers. It that means making movies that are the equivalent of a shiny and empty (albeit exciting) commercial, then we will see the franchise continue to do so.

    • Agree with you about not being keen on product placements, Jeri. However, not sure why it's more modern to drink bear than vodka martini? Not least since drinking vodka martini is becoming increasingly popular.

  14. I don't think James Bond is too commercial, but yea – the whole beer drinking thing? I don't know about that. Where's the Martini at? Either way James Bond is still dope. And this new bond actor is much better than the previous one.

  15. I definitely opt for the gentleman who always gets the girl in the end. I am not really a fan of the Bond Brand, butt if certain aspects of the brand resonates with it customers, then why tamper with it and mess up the already waiting market? So NO, I think it is foolhardy for the sponsors to be dictating the direction of the Bond Brand!

  16. The problem with this posting is that it misses the economics of the film industry! Without the product placement the film wouldn't get made. Plus the real demand for the films comes from the comercial world! Killing off a winning brand is hard to do. When Conan Doyle tried to kill of Holmes he was made to bring it back by public apetitie. In 2012 its as much the apitite of the marketing men that keep these franchises going.

  17. Bond as a Brand should be more faith full with its core idea (as any brand should), on the long term the money they accept trough products that forces Bond to become something else is a waste of money that will not add to the brand equity and will have its cost on the long term.

    I agree with you, for them it shouldnt be a problem raising money for Bonds brand, actually it should be a kind of price/recognition if they choose a brand to be part of the movie becoming "a Bond product standard".

    But the real risk they are taking I think, is not only the choice of product placement but what they are doing with the character itself Im not that sure thats the bond I was expecting to see and the kind of "gadgets" I dream he will have…

    In other words, I like the movie, Im open to see a new side of the character but …

    …thats not what Bond uses, thats not what he drinks, thats not the amount of lovers he used to have he is not as elegant as he should and the amount and quality of gadgets he should be surprising me with… Is it really Bond then?

    Maybe 007 has become something else or is fighting with a terrible enemy more into numbers and easy money (160.9M) and the sky is falling and has killed Bond… Jaaames Bon!

  18. Seasons change, people change, why shouldn't Bond change?
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  19. You are right. The new Bond movie is on the road to be the best selling ever and they really do not need the extra bucks from Heiniken or whoever throws in the money. Watch "The greatest movie ever sold" which pretty much sums it up
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