As a youngster there were three people who I would consider to be my genuine heroes. One was Nottingham Forest midfielder Steve Hodge, one was, ahem, Russ Abbott and one was James Bond.
Looking back there is probably only one of those three that I’d still consider to be a hero of mine (although Russ Abbot is an underrated comedy genius. Honestly).
Obviously my one childhood hero that has endured is James Bond (sorry Hodge). I doubt there are many men who don’t at least have some small amount of adulation for 007.
But over the years there has been a growing trend in Bond films that has made me increasingly uneasy – especially since I began working in the big, evil marketing machine.
Product placement has become as much a prominent fixture of each Bond film as the punching, shooting, shagging, gambling, boozing and ludicrously tiny swimming trunks.
It’s not even as if the product promotion even attempts any level of subtlety. During the Pierce Brosnan films especially there was a plethora of detailed, lingering shots of BMWs, Omega watches, Smirnoff vodka, Sony laptops and even a Philishave. (For the record James Bond would not shave with a Philishave. Gary Neville would shave with a Philishave.)
Speaking as a rather pathetic fanboy I personally want to see James Bond sneaking around a baddie’s underwater lair in a tiny submarine disguised as a crocodile. I want to see him beating a villain at cards, snogging some cheeky young lass and blowing up an enormous laser beam. I do not want to see him munching on a Waitrose salad and listening to his iPod.
With the upcoming release of Skyfall, the latest instalment in the series (using the word ‘franchise’ to refer to the films makes me want to punch myself in the ear) I am fearful that there will be much more of the same.
I will undoubtedly go to the cinema to see it and I will thoroughly enjoy Daniel Craig beating some shady characters to death with a roulette wheel. I will, however, physically wince if the camera dwells a bit too lovingly on the sight of Bond reaching for a bottle of Heineken. Why not just get him to knock back a WKD?
There has been much grumbling amongst the Bond community about the level of product placement and the choice of brands the character is seen to endorse. Their arguments have been countered by those who recognise product placement to be an inevitable fixture of the films.
What is certain is that a film series as popular and commercially profitable as the Bond films will always receive big money offers from brands to promote their goods. Sadly, it is also true that the film producers are never going to turn down such lucrative proposals.
Maybe it’s time to find another hero. I’ve never seen Russ Abbot use a Philishave.
Andrew Boulton is a copywriter at the Together Agency. He will happily accept any offers to endorse WKD.
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