Bond keeps marketing to the 1% (maybe 0.5%)

The “old days”: Affordable James Bond lunchbox seen around U.S. school yards, circa 1965-66

If you’re not among the 1 percent — maybe the 0.5 percent — then the James Bond film franchise doesn’t really care about you.

The latest offering from the 007 store is a James Bond backgammon set costing 4,895 British pounds (about $6,040).

Here’s a description:

Introducing a backgammon board worthy of James Bond. The 007 Bespoke Backgammon Set is hand built for champions and aficionados by the world-renown Geoffrey Parker, the backgammon championship board supplier of choice. Individually handmade to order, each set has a unique three digit number – which 00 will you be?

If you’ve got the money, perhaps you can play a game of backgammon while you sit in your Aston Martin DB5 replica that the car company is selling for more than $3 million each.

Of course, those replicas aren’t street legal, so you can’t drive them anywhere unless you haul them to a race track that you can afford to rent.

That’s not exactly marketing to the masses.

Bond became a phenomenon in the 1960s. Kids took their (affordable) lunch boxes to schools. Parents bought (affordable) puzzles and games for their children. All of that hooked future generations of Bond fans.

Today? Not so much. Many studios use forums such as the San Diego Comic Con as a big marketing platform. It’s seen as a way to market to young people. Not the Bond franchise.

Eon Productions briefly (1994 and 1995) held a fan convention as the franchise revived as the 1989-95 hiatus ended.

Since then? Forget it. Bond is all about the 1 percent, maybe even the 0.5 percent.

Well, that’s how it goes.

UPDATE (Oct. 4, 2019): Bollinger has its own offerings for the 1 percent. Details below from a press release.

Bollinger Tribute to Moonraker Luxury Limited Edition

Moonraker, released forty years ago, featured James Bond whose mission took him on an outer space adventure. It was also the movie on which the Bond and Bollinger partnership began. To celebrate their 40 year partnership, Champagne Bollinger and 007 pay tribute to their shared heritage and revisit the space shuttle created by legendary production designer Ken Adam. Champagne Bollinger enlisted designer Eric Berthes to re-imagine the Moonraker space shuttle. Crafted from pewter and wood veneer, encasing a Saint Louis crystal ice bucket and a magnum of Bollinger 2007, the Bond vintage par excellence. Each numbered piece has been crafted and finished by hand, making it unique. Limited edition of 407 copies. RRP £4,500.

That’s about $5,500.

The Bollinger 007 Limited Edition Millésimé 2011

To mark the release of the upcoming movie No Time To Die, the 25th instalment of the James Bond series, the House has created a limited edition wine dedicated to 007, with a 2011 vintage inspired by the world of Bond. The jet-black 75cl bottle is adorned with the number “25”, formed from the titles of the previous films, which are similarly etched on the glass of the wooden box. The 2011 vintage, an atypical year, inspired Cellar Master to produce a unique champagne, created entirely from Pinot Noir from the Grand Cru village of Aÿ, where the House was first established in 1829. This is the first time that both the vintage and village have been used exclusively by Bollinger to make a dedicated wine. The excellent 2011 harvest in Aÿ, produced complex, powerful and harmonious Pinot Noirs, fully expressed in this characterful wine. RRP £150.

That’s about $184.

Ready or not, the DB5 reports for service again

A replica Aston Martin DB5 rolls off the truck in preparation for Bond 25 filming

Italian news outlet Sassilive had a story about Bond 25 getting ready for filming in Matera, Italy. The article included a photo gallery, including a picture (see above) of an Aston Martin DB5 coming off a truck.

So, ready for not, the DB5 is back. Again.

Most people won’t care that the car (actually one of several) is an expensive replica of the DB5. Carbon fiber body. BMW engine. New suspension components that were never included in the DB5s that Aston Martin made in the 1960s.

Regardless, Eon Productions is turning to one the most iconic images of its James Bond film series. The question is whether this may be one time too many.

The original DB5 was introduced in Goldfinger and made a return in Thunderball. While other Aston models showed up in various Bond films, the DB5 wasn’t seen again in a 007 outing until 1995’s GoldenEye.

In that film, the DB5 appeared to be Bond’s personal car. Ditto for 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies. A left-handed drive version then appeared in 2006’s Casino Royale, something he won in a card game.

But the DB5 — an original right-hand drive version — was back in 2012’s Skyfall. This time, director Sam Mendes made sure everyone knew it was (or at least it was supposed to be) the original Goldfinger car. And, indeed, every time I saw the film in the theater, it got a rise out of the audience.

The DB5 was blown up in Skyfall, a somewhat emotional moment. But all was forgotten in 2015’s SPECTRE when Q (improbably) had it rebuilt. And Daniel Craig’s Bond appeared to drive off into the sunset at the end of the movie.

Since then, we’ve gotten expensive Lego DB5s and even more expensive replica DB5s with replica gadgets that Aston Martin is selling for more than $3 million each. That’s a lot of money, especially they’re not legal to drive in actual traffic.

Regardless, the DB5 (at least a faux version) is back for Bond 25. Daniel Craig told Prince Charles the secrets of the Bond 25 DB5s when the prince visited Pinewood Studios in June. Now the replica DB5 will soon be at work when Bond 25 begins filming in Italy in a few weeks.

I never really thought I’d say this, but I’m getting tired of the DB5.

Yes, people collect vintage cars. But does it really make sense for Bond to drive what’s supposed to be a 55-year-old (or so) car on a regular basis?

Yes, the DB5 is an iconic Bond car — or at least it was. But is it getting used too much?

Haphazard Stuff, which does very amusing, detailed videos, recently did a long look at Bond 25. He examined the DB5 issue, starting at the 33:36 mark. You can see the video below. (If I did this correctly, it’ll go to the DB5 discussion when you click.) Anyway, some food for thought.

Aston Martin confirms B25 lineup; Prince Charles visits

Publicity still for Aston Martin Valhalla

Aston Martin announced on Twitter that three of its cars, including the new Valhalla supercar, will be in Bond 25.

Aston Martin DB5, Aston Martin V8 and Aston Martin Valhalla will star in Bond 25, the latest instalment in the @007 franchise,” the company said in a post on Twitter.

The post confirmed a story earlier this week at This Is Money, part of the Daily Mail, that the cars would be in the film. Andy Palmer, the CEO of Aston Martin, had retweeted a Twitter post from Ray Massey who had written the This Is Money story. 

The DB5 isn’t much of a surprise. James Bond and Madeline Swann drove off in the DB5 at the end of SPECTRE. The 1980s vintage V8 had been spotted during filming in Norway.

However, in March, the Sun tabloid reported that the Aston Martin Raptide E electric car would be in the movie. That story was picked up widely by other outlets.

Instead, the film is getting the Valhalla. It was described in an Aston Martin press release this week as being “propelled by a combination of high-efficiency, high-output turbocharged V6 petrol engine and battery-electric hybrid system.”

For the announcement, Aston Martin had a photo of Prince Charles and 007 actor Daniel Craig. The latter is no longer wearing a cast after suffering an injury earlier during Bond 25 filming.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

UPDATE (1:40 p.m. New York time): The Daily Mail had a ringside seat and produced a story about Prince Charles’s visit to Pinewood Studios to meet the Bond 25 cast and director Cary Fukunaga.

UPDATE II (1:55 p.m. New York time): The Royal Family Channel posts a video of the visit of Prince Charles to Pinewood

Behind the scenes with the replica Aston Martin DB5s

Iconic publicity still for Goldfinger with Sean Connery leaning against the Aston Martin DB5.

Aston Martin has come out with a video providing a peek concerning how it is producing 25 replica DB5 sports cars like the one Sean Connery drove in Goldfinger.

Chris Corbould, a long-time special effects creator on Bond films, is involved in installing the gadgets. Based on the video, it appears to the smoke screen and other extras will be a little more sophisticated than the ones John Stears installed in the Goldfinger DB5.

Just a reminder The replicas won’t come cheap. They’re priced at 2.75 million British pounds ($3.56 million at current exchange rates) each. Deliveries will begin in 2020.

And one more thing. They won’t be street legal (or road legal as Aston Martin phrased it in an August 2018 press release).

You can view the video below.

About that 007 driving an EV thing

Powertrain of an Aston Martin Raptide E

The British tabloid The Sun caused a stir this week with a story saying that James Bond will drive an all-electric Aston Marton Raptide E in Bond 25

Being a tabloid, the phrasing was provocative.

The £250,000 Rapide E is the Brit motor manufacturer’s first electric vehicle and only 155 are being built.

An insider said: “The decision was spearheaded by the film’s new director, who’s a total tree-hugger.

“He is working directly with Aston Martin to get one of their electric cars ready for its big close-up.he £250,000 Rapide E is the Brit motor manufacturer’s first electric vehicle and only 155 are being built.

(snip)
“Everybody is afraid of Bond getting labelled ‘too PC’ but they all felt the time was right to put him in a zero emission vehicle.” (emphasis added)

The thing is, if you’re going to keep “timeshifting” a character created in the early 1950s by Ian Fleming, Bond has to confront the world the way it is now. Needless to say the world has changed when Fleming was writing Casino Royale in early 1952 in Jamaica.

Specifically, it’s not just “tree huggers” who are causing the auto industry to develop electric vehicles.

China, the world’s largest automotive market and a country with severe pollution problems, is more or less forcing the industry to make more electric vehicles. Here’s the opening to a 2018 story published by Bloomberg Businessweek:

The world’s biggest market for electric vehicles wants to get even bigger, so it’s giving automakers what amounts to an ultimatum. Starting in January, all major manufacturers operating in China—from global giants Toyota Motor and General Motors to domestic players BYD and BAIC Motor—have to meet minimum requirements there for producing new-energy vehicles, or NEVs (plug-in hybrids, pure-battery electrics, and fuel-cell autos). A complex government equation requires that a sizable portion of their production or imports must be green in 2019, with escalating goals thereafter.

In other words, if you want to sell cars and trucks in China, you’d better have electric offerings. Regulators in Europe are also pushing “cleaner” vehicles. The U.S. is the one major market where the government want to ease up fuel-economy and vehicle-emission standards.

To be sure, it’s unclear how fast EV expansion will happen. Regardless, EVs are a fact of life. So it’s not crazy that Bond 25 would reflect this. This post isn’t an endorsement of The Sun’s story. It remains to be seen how accurate that story is.

However, Bond driving a fast EV in the 21st century isn’t a fantasy. We’ll see what happens.

Aston Martin to be in Bond 25, CEO says

Daniel Craig and Aston Martin DB5 in a Skyfall publicity sill

Aston Martin will be involved with Bond 25, the company’s CEO told CNN.

The executive, Andy Palmer, apparently was interviewed for the world feed of the news network. The CNN interviewer, Anna Stewart, posted an excerpt on her Instagram account.

“I can confirm that Aston Martin will be collaborating in the next chapter of Bond,” Palmer said in the video excerpt. “So take read from that what you will.”

There have been stories, including one in the Financial Times, that an executive of Lotus, Phil Popham, said he’d like to see his company reunite with 007.

Lotus figured in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), where the car supposedly converted into a submarine, and For Your Eyes Only (1981). Aston’s history with the 007 film series goes back to 1964’s Goldfinger.

Aston Martin became a publicly traded company this week.

“The share price fall on Wednesday left the 105-year-old firm, James Bond’s favourite car marque, with a market value of just above £4bn, sharply lower than its initial hopes for a price tag of over £5bn,” according to a story in The Guardian.

About that whole James Bond-Aston Martin thing

Iconic publicity still for Goldfinger with Sean Connery leaning against the Aston Martin DB5.

One wonders what Ian Fleming would have thought about the love affair between the James Bond films and Aston Martin.

In the Goldfinger novel, Bond had a choice between the Aston Martin DB3 or a Jaguar for use as a cover as “a well-to-do, rather adventurous young man with a taste for the good, the fast things of life.” He chose the Aston.

By the time Goldfinger was adapted by Eon Productions in 1964, Bond drove a government-issued DB5, complete with an elector seat, machine guns, oil slick and other extras. Bond films were never the same again. The cinematic Bond, despite some breaks here and there, has been driving Aston Martins frequently since.

Indeed, the DB5 has shown up in a number of films since 1995’s Goldfinger, including 2015’s SPECTRE where he drove it at the end of the movie.

In the novels, Bond was a civil servant who lived relatively modestly (although he could afford a housekeeper). But Aston Martin isn’t concerned about the middle class.

Latest example: The announcement that Aston Martin will build 25 replica DB5s at a price of 2.75 million British pounds each. The cars, though, won’t be street legal, according to a separate Aston Martin statement.

The replicas are supposed to come with Bond gadgets. The literary Bond might burn through a year’s salary (inflation adjusted) just paying for the insurance and maintenance bills. Then again, the 007 movies have glossed over, or simply ignored, other aspects of Fleming’s novels.

At the same time, Aston Martin has its issues as well. It’s a bit of an orphan in the automotive world. For 30 years, it was part of Ford Motor Co. But Ford had to sell it off in 2007 amid financial troubles.

As a result, Aston swims in an ocean of automotive sharks. The auto industry is a bit unsettled these days. Even the giants aren’t exactly sure what’s going to happen next in an era of self-driving cars and ride-sharing services.

In 2014, Adweek wrote about how Aston’s connection to the 007 films didn’t really help sales because the company sold so few cars. For a time, Aston was talking about the need to diversify from James Bond. In stories such as a 2016 article in Marketing Week, company executives said they relied too much on the 007 image.

That was then, this is now. Besides making DB5 replicas, the carmaker last month was part of a pact to sell pricey (129.99 British pounds) Lego versions of the 007 DB5. If Aston Martin is diversifying from Bond, it doesn’t much look like it.

The Bond marriage with Aston Martin continues, even if the literary 007 couldn’t afford the products that marriage produces.