Here’s a most unliklely critic of the Skyfall-Heineken (R) deal

See for yourself:

(We spotted this originally on the message boards of the MI6 James Bond fan Web site.)

How did the 007-Heineken deal become such a big deal?

The flap over Heineken’s product-placement deal with Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond movie, isn’t going away. How’d that happen? After all, James Bond drank beer in some of Ian Fleming’s original stories. He had beer in some movies, as recently as 2008’s Quantum of Solace, the most recent 007 flick.

"James, was this beer deal such a good idea?"
"Pass me a Heineken, Felix!"


With 20-20 hindsight, it’s not that surprising. Here’s what led to the situation:

The financial conditions of two studios: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which owns half the 007 franchise, recently was in bankruptcy court, emerging as a smaller company. It ended up cutting a deal with Sony Corp. to distribute Skyfall (and the next 007 film). But Sony has financial problems of its own. That meant:

Skyfall was going to rely heavily on product placement: The Sunday Times of London reported 11 month ago that MGM and Sony were looking to product placement deals to supply as much as one-third of Skyfall’s budget (this link shows the version of the Sunday Times story that appeared in The Australian). Months later, Skyfall star Daniel Craig tactily admitted that product placement was vital to Skyfall.

As a result, the media and some fans were on red alert: Bond movies had been criticized before for what seemed like excessive product placement. Some fans noted how 1979’s Moonraker included plenty of plugs for Marlboro cigarettes, British Airways and 7-Up. The 2006 Casino Royale movie, Craig’s debut as Bond, was noted for how it shoehorned a reference for Omega watches into a key scene with Craig’s Bond and Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd. Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, who had done a film on product placement, included 007 films in his critique.

The initial announcement of Heineken’s Skyfall deal wasn’t handled well: Heineken’s Feb. 8 press release announcing the product-placement deal had a lot of chest-thumping by both the company and Eon Productions, which produces the 007 movies:

Alexis Nasard, Chief Commercial Officer of HEINEKEN said: “When two great brands like Heineken® and James Bond join together, excitement is guaranteed. We are proud of our long standing partnership. The trust that we have built has allowed us to take the partnership to a new level by linking SKYFALL directly with our award winning global ‘Open Your World’ campaign. We are confident our activation plan will ignite the conversation with our consumers and film viewers.”

Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, the SKYFALL producers added: “The level of collaboration with Heineken® is unprecedented. We are excited by the global reach and the creativity that the Heineken® team is able to deliver.”

Of course, Heineken and Eon could have mentioned that 007 had consumed beer in Ian Fleming’s novels and Eon’s movies. Evidently, they were so busy discussing how wonderful they were, that fact just couldn’t be squeezed into the press release. Make no mistake, when a press release quotes an executive, those quotes are approved by the executive ahead of time. This wasn’t an oversight. This is the message Heineken and Eon wanted to get across. Translation of said message: “We’re wonderful, you’re lucky to have us.”

Timing is everything: In this case, the timing was bad. Yes, Bond drank more than just martinis on the page and on the screen. (In Live And Let Die, director Guy Hamilton and screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz made a point of having first-time 007 Roger Moore drink bourbon to avoid comparisons with Sean Connery.) But Bond was, for better or worse, identified with martinis in movies.

In addition, the Casino Royale reboot shook things up. The movie turned the traditional Bond formula on its head as we watched a thuggish Bond learn to be a gentleman. They could have chose to shown how a gentleman learned to become tough (this is not an original observation on our part) but the filmmakers didn’t take that approach. During Casino Royale’s marketing, we were told, the film shows “how James became Bond.” We were told by the end of the movie, the James Bond we all knew would emerge. Then, in 2008’s Quantum of Solace, we were told that James wasn’t Bond just yet. Hence, the gunbarrel scene, again, wasn’t at the start of the movie.

As a result, in the last six years, Bond fans have processed at lot of change. The Heineken deal meant yet more change and that’s been the theme of much of the coverage since the deal was first announced. Maud Adams, who appeared in two 007 films, said “this has gone too far. Martini was something elegant when I served Roger Moore and it is elegant to this day.”

Some fans say this was all planned by Heineken to get publicity. We doubt it. Most companies don’t like publicity where people dump on you. This probably will blow over. Then again, we first thought this would have blown over by now.

UPDATE: According to A YAHOO! MOVIES POST blog post, Michael G. Wilson told reporters in Mexico (he was speaking from the U.K.) that: “Bond would sup Heineken in the film, but added that he would drink Vodka Martinis as well.”

Bond 23 to have tighter budget, The Sun says

The Sun, the U.K. tabloid newspaper, says Bond 23 will be made on a tighter budget than previous entries in the series.

The story (which you can read BY CLICKING HERE) leads off by saying Daniel Craig will grow a beard for the movie. But this passage caught our eye:

The film is going to be made on a shoestring budget in comparison to the last few.

A source said: “They’ve really scaled back.

“The lavish production and locations have been cut.

“There is only a reduced cast and crew travelling to the few overseas destinations.”

The Sun gets no more specific than that, nor describes how the source came across the information. The paper also doesn’t provide a specific budget figure. (It also has a plot spoiler if you care to read the story).

This is the second report (at least indirectly) referring to a smaller budget for Bond 23. The Times of India, IN A STORY IN AUGUST said Bond 23’s budget was $135 million. That newspaper didn’t specify how it got that figure, not even attributing it to a source, just stating the number.

Quantum of Solace had a budget of $230 million, according to The Numbers.com Web site. As we’ve noted before, a reduced Bond 23 budget would make sense. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which controls half the 007 franchise, reorganized itself in bankruptcy court. Sony Corp., whose Columbia Pictures will distribute Bond 23, is having its own financial tough times. It’s up to MGM and Sony to finance Bond 23 and the world is a lot different in 2011 than it was in 2008.

UPDATE: The $135 million figure may have originated with a story in the Sunday Times of London earlier this year. You can read a version that ran on The Australian’s Web site by CLICKING HERE. That story said MGM and Sony intended to raise $45 million, or one-third of Bond 23’s production budget, through product placement deals.

Simple math — 45 multiplied by 3 — gives you $135 million.

Daniel Craig can take a licking…

Over in the U.K., Del Monte is selling Popsicles in the form of actor Daniel Craig. Specifically, Craig as he appeared with a swimming suit in Casino Royale, his 007 debut.

The Shiny Objects blog of the Chicago Sun-Times web site reports Del Monte selected Craig because he topped a poll of popular male stars.

For another take on this chilling development, you can also look an another article by CLICKING RIGHT HERE. Dietary note: each Popsicle has fewer than 100 calories.

1965: the apex of the 007-Ford Motor relationship

Ford Motor Co. has had a long association with the James Bond film series, most recently with Quantum of Solace. But the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker’s involvement with 007 probably peaked with Thunderball.

The company’s cars not only saturate Sean Connery’s fourth 007 outing, but the automaker’s CEO, Henry Ford II (1917-1987), worked as an extra and Ford had what has to rank as one of the most unusual movie promotions for Bond.

First, a sampling of Ford cars that appear in the movie. For the record, we are excluding the Aston Martin DB V. Ford didn’t buy U.K.-based Aston until 1987 and sold it off in 2007. This list is of Ford Motor offerings at the time of production and release.

– “Madam Bouvard” departs the funeral for “her” husband in a Lincoln Continental.

– SPECTRE No. 2 Emilo Largo arrives at the criminal organization’s Paris headquarters in a white Ford Thunderbird convertible. The two-door Tbird, while hardly Ford’s biggest car of the era, looks huge in the narrow Paris street.

– SPECTRE operative Count Lippe tools around in a Ford Fairlane while doing his part for the criminal group’s plan to hijack two NATO military aircraft. Lippe’s Fairlane meets an explosive end, courtesy of rockets from SPECTRE hitwoman Fiona Volpe’s motorcycle.

– Bond, nearly killed while inspecting Largo’s yacht underwater, swims ashore and ditches his wetsuit. He thinks he’s lucky when a baby blue Mustang pulls up. But it’s driven by Fiona (Luciana Paluzzi) and Bond isn’t sure whether he’s going to survive the drive as the SPECTRE hitwoman gets the Mustang up to 120 mph.

– Bond drives a light blue Lincoln Continental to Largo’s Palmyra estate for lunch. A rental car? Was Bond looking for more room after driving the Aston so much? Were Ford executives relieved to see Bond, and not the bad guys, driving one of their cars?

– Bond, after a pleasant interlude with Fiona, is captured by SPECTRE. They take him in a Ford station wagon until they hit congestion from the Junkanoo festival. The disruption gives Bond a chance to escape.

This wasn’t all of Ford’s involvement. The company produced A Child’s Guide to Blowing Up a Motor Car, in which a British chap takes his godson to watch the filming of a scene from Thunderball. The scene is where Fiona (actually a stutman subbing for Luciana Paluzzi) shoots rockets at Count Lippe’s Fairlane (here driven by stuntman Bob Simmons). The audience can view how special effects man John Stears (who’d win an Oscar for his efforts on Thunderball) prepares gasoline-soaked rags, which will be ignited to create the explosion and make it look like the handiwork of rockets. Unfortuantely, this gives the god son unfortunate ideas…

The Ford promo had gone unseen for decades until TWINE Entertainment’s The Thunderball Phenomenon was produced in 1995 as part of a special VHS issue of Thunderball and Goldfinger. The featurette remained as part of DVD issues but the entire Ford production is now part of two-disk Thunderball sets.

QoS: Ford Motor Co. press release

Ford Motor Co., before the U.S. release of Quantum of Solace had marketed the subcompact Ka driven by Olga Kurylenko. But the Ford vehicles that got the most screen time were a few Edge wagons. Ford put out another press release to highlight the appearance of the Edges. To read it, just click, HERE .

QoS vehicle product placement report

No spoilers here with less than 48 hours before Quantum of Solace is released in the U.S. However, one of our editors attended an advance screening and provides this product placement report.

Eon had publicized the fact that Bond would drive an Aston Martin again. So, no surprise there. Ford Motor Co. has emphasized its redesigned Ka subcompact would be in the film. Ford’s biggest contribution was a number of Edge crossover wagons, which got more film time than the Ka.

A former Ford brand, Land Rover, also shows up in the film. Ford sold the brand, along with Jaguar, to Tata Motors of India earlier this year.

QoS: Product tie-in marketing kicks into high gear

One of the main reason for all those product placement deals in 007 movies is it holds down marketing costs. The companies participating in production placement (or “partners” as marketing types will call them) turn over part of their ad budgets to promoting the film.

With less than two weeks before the movie’s U.S. premier, such ads are all over the place. For example, here’s a frequently run Smirnoff spot:

Not to mention Coca-Cola Co.’s Coke Zero:

When you add the commercials Sony’s Columbia Pictures is buying, James Bond is all over the place.

QoS: More with Olga Kurylenko and Ford

Ford Motor Co., not content to just having Olga Kurylenko at the Paris Motor Show, issued a press release this week introducing us to the Quantum of Solace actress. Afterall, we’re reminded, Olga is the first person to drive a Ford Ka. And the redesigned Ka will be in Quantum of Solace.

You can read for yourself at the Ford media Web site:

http://media.ford.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=29294

We’re guessing our friends at the Ian Fleming Foundation are already plotting to get their hands on the car.

Olga Kurylenko promotes QoS and Ford at Paris Motor Show

Back on Oct. 2, Quantum of Solace co-star Olga Kurylenko appeared at Ford Motor Co.’s news conference at the Paris Motor Show. Her purpose was two-fold: to promote Ford’s redesigned Ka (a subcompact not available in the U.S.) as well as the new James Bond film. You can take a look here:

She’s talking to John Fleming, who is chief of Ford’s European unit (and no relation to Ian). His official Ford biography and photograph can be found here:

http://media.ford.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=8585

Meanwhile, here’s a photo of someone Bond has encountered in the past:

http://film.guardian.co.uk/pictures/image/0,,-1060329617786,00.html

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