"What's up, people? We're going full auto on this new Kriss Vector gun."
That's actress Milla Jovovich speaking to the camera in a behind-the-scenes video promoting the current box office-topping film Resident Evil: Retribution. The fifth iteration of the hit franchise offers little new material. But what is new is the Kriss Vector submachine gun toted throughout the movie by Jovovich, who is quickly becoming the firearm industry's most reliable spokesperson.
With additional roles in 2012 hit films The Avengers and Total Recall, Kriss is the latest brand of unique looking firearm to make a splash in Hollywood.
"The first major breakthrough in weapons operating systems in more than 120 years!" is how Kriss bills its weapon the "Vector," which comes in a range of configurations aimed at "global law enforcement, military and civilian markets."
Evan McNamara, Kriss' director of sales and business development, explained to brandchannel that the Vector is "unlike any other firearm on the market today" thanks to "an innovative operating system which reduces felt recoil and muzzle climb allowing the user more control and rapid target reacquisition."
Kriss is a Swiss-based brand with its US headquarters in Virginia, a favorite base state for gunmakers. The brand certainly hopes that its exotic Swiss product will follow in the steps of another, once exotic gun brand from a small European nation: Glock. As Brandchannel has explained, Glock's rise to become the most poplar handgun in the most handgun-owning nation on earth all began in Hollywood.
It's well on its way, with its product placement in Resident Evil 5 easily the biggest in its history. While Kriss' 2012 roles in Total Recall, The Avengers and the action movie Safe largely related to the background, Resident Evil: Retribution gives the weapon several starring scenes.
In one, a wall of Kriss Vectors pop up to Jovovich's pleasure. A later scene uses the opportunity to highlight Kriss' Vector with a joke, putting it in the hands of a character who insists she is for gun control and "marched against the NRA." A minute later, that character (Michelle Rodriguez) is machine-gunning zombies left and right. A major coup, Kriss even landed on the posters for both Recall and Evil.
Who wouldn't take Kate Beckinsale and Jovovich as brand ambassadors?
When asked if Kriss has a role placing its Vector in three of 2012's biggest films, McNamara says, "The short answer is yes and no." He adds, "What we’ve done is try to give as many of these armorers access to our firearms in the hopes they’ll present the Kriss firearms as an option when they see a potential movie fit."
One of the reasons the Vector "fit" is the gun's futuristic appearance. McNamara acknowledges the gun's “cool facto," saying "The Vector is truly a modern, if not, futuristic firearm which really engages the audience and allows the filmmakers to showcase a firearm that hasn’t been seen before." In this respect, Kriss's vector is a little like Belgium's Steyr AUG, a weapon that, despite an age of over 30 years, is still used to add a futuristic feel to a film.
There is no doubt that some Hollywood attention can do wonderful things for a gunmaker. Speaking to brandchannel in 2010, Jim Skildum, former president and CEO of Magnum Research Inc., said of his company's Desert Eagle, "Its size and unique configuration and the perception of power that the Desert Eagle provides to the character using it." Skildum also said that Magnum Research "absolutely" heard from many customers who want a Desert Eagle "just like So-and-So had in That-Movie." Now one of the most iconic film guns of all time, the Desert Eagle is nonetheless a ridiculous hand canon, very impractical for self defense, hunting or anything beyond looking, and performing, like a badass.
While's it's still too early to gauge feedback for its film roles, McNamara says that Kriss fans "get excited when they see the Kriss Vector in movies, especially ones as popular as Total Recall, Resident Evil, and The Avengers."
While the brand has little control over how it is used onscreen, it can choose when and how to draw attention to its roles. Kriss so far has used social media to good effect, tweeting "Behind the Scenes of @ResidentEvil: Retribution. @MillaJovovich training with the KRISS Vector," the film's poster as well as photos from Avengers and Total Recall. Its Facebook post of Vectors from the film received over 160 likes and numerous comments, all glowingly positive. Kriss also uses social media to point out appearances in video games like Call of Duty and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier.
For Kriss, Hollywood films are an excellent way to create brand awareness and expose our unique firearms to more people. McNamara says, "Using traditional marketing avenues such as print and online, you can’t always capture the full essence and value of our innovative Vector firearms. In the movies, viewers are able to see the firearm in a more engaging way through action scenes and different accessory configurations."
For the record, the fully automatic Kriss Vector SMG submachine gun used in Resident Evil is classified "LE and MIL only," meaning only law enforcement and military organizations can get hands on it. But, it just so happens there is also a semi-automatic version of the Vector—identical in appearance—available to anyone from a class III dealer. Also available in a "tactical" package.
Meanwhile, Kriss is in good hands with Jovovich, who was last seen in Resident Evil 4 promoting a pair of Smith & Wesson 460Vs. Yet, as good an ambassador as Jovovich has become for gun product placement, she appears to have her limits. While in Japan in the immediate wake of the Dark Knight Rises theater shooting, the actress wisely chose not to go along with a poorly imagined promotional campaign that involved her shooting zombies in the cinema.
McNamara is not aware of any upcoming roles but says the brand is "hopeful we’ll see it again on the big screen in the not too distant future." It's likely to not be too long. That said, Kriss's product placement future is more likely to parallel Steyr AUG's more than Glock's, a character-actor product placement future Kriss almost certainly should welcome.