Product placements in James Bond movies are about as inevitable as the subsequent complaints about product placements in James Bond movies.
The latest flap is over sweaters. British fashion brand N. Peal, famed for its luxe brand of cozy cool, has made a deal for the upcoming SPECTRE to dress Bond in its $300-plus cashmere sweaters—which have since sold out. It’s a partnership that’s led actor Daniel Craig to defend the product placement amid criticism from 007 fans and press alike fearing the Bond brand will be diluted.
The backlash is similar to that befalling Skyfall. And Quantum of Solace. And Die Another Day. Indeed, Lark cigarettes deals with Bond films were so objectionable that they effectively killed tobacco brands’ product placement in Hollywood.
N. Peal will join Range Rover, Aston Martin and Belvedere Vodka as Bond’s product placement partners in SPECTRE. As usual, each new product announcement generates headlines bristling with contempt for the commercialization of Bond.
“It is easy to get over-analytical about product placement in James Bond,” says John Barnard, Chairman of Pinewood Studios-based NMG Product Placement, which provided the SPECTRE production team with free props. “‘Bond Placement’ has its own set of rules, many of which would be a disaster in any other blockbuster—but time after time, it works for Bond and its product placement partners.”
Craig, who himself receives promotional payments from Bond partner brands, has defended the practice. Recently he told The Daily Express, “A movie like this costs $118 million to make… And it costs another $200 million to sell it. So the $200 million has to come from somewhere.”
Barnard adds, “At the end of the day ‘Bond Placement’ provides a virtually guaranteed global media platform for brands. What other forms of global brand communication can deliver the audience, powerful influence across different cultures?”
One new brand partner, however, faces an unwelcome reception. Gun-maker Arsenal Firearms recently announced—then deleted—a statement about becoming a “key weapon” in SPECTRE.
“It is with great pleasure that we can finally and officially announce that our brand new product—the AF2011 Dueller Prismatic—was selected some months ago to be one of the key weapons featured in the new James Bond movie SPECTRE,” began the March 4 announcement on the Bulgarian gun-maker’s website. The page has since been deleted but a cached version reveals that Arsenal provided five pistols to the Bond production.
Fans fearing that Bond’s famous Walther pistol will be replaced can probably take a deep breath. Arsenal’s Dueller is a twin-barrel .45 that seems wildly inappropriate as Bond’s gun of choice. Indeed, a promotional image, also since deleted, shows the gun in the hands of a villain, Mr. Hinx, played by Dave Bautista.