How Skyfall Screwed Heineken While Rewarding Macallan


With the debris settled after the latest James Bond success, it seems that all of the bellyaching about Heineken’s role in the film was about nothing. Daniel Craig as Bond reclines and sips a green bottle here and there, the label never visible. Without the ruckus surrounding Heineken’s tie-in, none would be the wiser. Indeed, without the ruckus, movie reviewing icon Roger Ebert never would have known what brand to mention when he called Bond a Heineken sell-out. But then the ruckus was the point. A $45 million point that backfired on Heineken.

Just one of the slaps in the face to Heineken from Skyfall‘s filmmakers came in the form of Macallan whisky, which is poured throughout the film by Bond villains and M alike. At one point, a bottle of “50-year old Macallan” (£1,400.00) is even identified Bond’s “favorite drink.” Macallan, by the way, paid nothing for the honor.[more]

Skyfall brought in “approximately $7.6 million of combined product placement branding exposure value in the film from this weekend’s US showings for its partners.” That according to Front Row Analytics, the analysis division of Front Row Marketing Services. (Earlier this year for our annual Product Placement Awards, Front Row found that that Mission Impossible 4 held a value of over $23 million in Apple product placement.)

In a statement, Front Row singled out a number of Bond’s brand partners, “including Heineken, Audi, Sony, Adidas, Aston Martin DB5 and Omega.”

Meanwhile, as of Dec. 5th, Macallan whisky had, according to Front Row’s analysis, achieved exposure value worth $2,035,007 in the U.S. and $7,117,757 worldwide. In addition to its excellent associations and front-and-center role, Eric Smallwood, senior vice president of Front Row Marketing Services & Front Row Analytics, told brandchannel that Macallan accounted “for 7 percent of the on-screen time of all of the product placement shown in the movie.”

“Overall we have had a really positive response with the brand placement and as James Bond is such a widely respected and well-known brand, it’s certainly raised our profile to perhaps a younger audience,” Lucy McQueen, the public affairs assistant for Macallan-owner Edrington Group, told brandchannel.

McQueen said the Macallan brand had very little input into the movie, and, again, zero dollar input as a partner. She added, “They did contact us for permission to use the brand, however we weren’t told about what scenes it would be used in. When the final edit of the SkyFall came out our Macallan director was a little nervous about the drink being associated with the scene where Daniel Craig takes a dram then fires a gun—as obviously, being an alcoholic beverage, it is important for us not to be associated with violence, crime, underage drinking, etc.”

Coincidentally, Macallan’s current “Master of Photography” campaign ties in nicely to the luxurious Bond lifestyle. “[T]here is a distinct similarity in theme crossing over from the photographs Annie [Leibovitz] produced  to James Bond himself,” said McQueen. She added that the way the Bond role and the campaign coordinated was “an ideal opportunity for both brands.”

Keeping with its message of understated luxury, Macallan did not go in for the over-the-top Bond tie-ins used by Heineken. The brand was a presence at Skyfall‘s rollout, however, including being served at the film’s premiere parties in Singapore and South Africa.

All in all, a stunning success for Macallan.

It’s worth noting that the UK’s New Media Group, which specialized in product placement, recently released the results of a study on the kind of “free” prop supply product placement that benefitted Macallan. The results found numerous advantages for the practice over “paid” placements like Heineken’s.

Heineken should look to terminate its relationship with Bond. Heineken has been a Bond partner since Tomorrow Never Dies, which had, in this writer’s opinion, a superior commercial message.

Heineken rolled out a significant Bond tie-in campaign for the last film, Quantum of Solace. Now, despite coming on as the largest single underwriter of the latest film, the brand could not manage a better defense from the film’s star than “It’s unfortunate, but that’s how it is.”

Would James Bond ever utter something so vile as, “It is what it is?” So what have all those years of partnership gotten the beer brand? Playing second fiddle to Macallan, which paid nothing, while being thrown under the bus by Bond himself?

As nearly every Bond girl has been unfortunate to discover, associating with Bond isn’t always worth the hassle.


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