James Bond is back, and companies such as Belvedere vodka, Gillette and Heineken have paid undisclosed sums for product tie-ins with Spectre in sponsorship deals that one marketing specialist says are cinema's version of the Olympics.
A day after the world premiere of Bond's 24th outing on the silver screens, brands and businesses associated with 007's adventures are already celebrating their shrewd move. Jacques de Cock, a marketing consultant and lecturer at the London School of Marketing, said the MI6 agent's business appeal was clear.
"Bond himself is a bad boy with style with tech savvy and has morals, so anyone can see parts of what they want. The techno nerds like it, the women like it, the bad boys like it, the older generations like it. So it has a bit of everything," he said.
De Cock credits Barbara Broccoli – franchise producer and daughter of James Bond movie legend Albert 'Cubby' Broccoli – with Bond's lucrative contracts.
"Barbara Broccoli apparently has been working on branding Bond now for the last 30 years and is very careful to curate the right types of brand," he said.
"They want a brand that actually enhances the Bond brand as well, and actually this mythology helps both, because Bond is now more exclusive and so brands have to work harder to be part of Bond, so they get more money out of it," he added.
De Cock said the half-century-old Bond franchise is cinema's marketing equivalent of the Olympics. He estimates Bond movies have earned some £11bn ($16.90bn) - in 2015 figures - at the box office, and another £2.6 to 3.2bn from marketing since Dr No in 1962. Although figures are not divulged, de Cock said the marketing and promotional activities associated with a modern Bond movie could run between £150m to £200m, or roughly the cost of making it.
"I looked at Star Wars, I looked at Harry Potter - they actually make more per movie, but there're only seven or eight movies long in terms of franchises. It's the longevity and depth in terms of franchises that makes Bond unique," he said.
Being a sponsor allows companies to show Bond-themed adverts, as both Gillette and Heineken are doing, or to mount lavish drinks parties – featuring Belvedere Martinis, as the spirits company did on Tuesday (27 October) night to celebrate the film's British premiere on Monday (26 October). It's the vodka brand's biggest-ever promotional sponsorship, and something Belvedere President Charles Gibb said was necessary in 2015.
"Today marketing is very, very different to what it used to be many years ago, and being talked about in popular culture is so key, and of course this is just a cultural moment, the release of a Bond movie is a cultural moment, the release of Spectre is a passion point for so many people in so many countries, so to be talked about at that time is just tremendous for a brand like Belvedere," he said.
Heineken's premium brands director in the UK, David Lette, agrees that Bond's appeal is exclusive – the brewer reportedly paid £18.3m for its sponsorship, or around a third of Spectre's entire production budget.
"They signify similar kinds of things as well. In terms of being witty, being resourceful, being confident and being really aspirational, so I think there's a fantastic tie-in with Heineken and James Bond. The Heineken brand exists in 170 markets and we're activating the "Spectre" movie in 85 of them, so a real global reach, which I think is beneficial to the Bond franchise, and obviously that's great for Heineken as well."
One brand that can attest to longevity with Bond is Aston Martin. The carmaker's Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman said that while association with Bond was part of the company's heritage, being synonymous with a popular cultural icon brought with it opportunities to be more forward-looking for consumers.
"Because Aston Martin is very much a trend-setter, it's important to stay ahead of that curve, it's important to understand it, and trend or culture or the nature of buying something is about desire. So for us it's about creating desire through association, through technology, through great looks," he explains.
For some brands like Gillette, the Bond sponsorship is new with this film, but for such brands it is a chance to move away from other more familiar promotions like sports. But not everyone who benefits pays to be seen in, or associated with, Bond. The green dress and hexagonal earrings that Lea Seydoux wears to an intimate dinner with Bond on a luxury train, have been plastered on billboards and buses across London – without anyone paying for sponsorship.
British-based label Ghost produced the £225 slinky Salma dress that the French actress Seydoux wears to a late night dinner which takes a familiar Bond-shaped turn. The dress, and the pair of DiamonDust earrings Seydoux wears – produced by the London-based jewellery firm David Deyong – were simply bought from shops by costume designers for the film, both firms said.