Is James Bond’s social status diminished by product placement?

Product placement is rampant in Hollywood films and here is a look at what products James Bond is now selling:

Never mind the other products basking in the superspy’s aura, such as Sony mobile phones and Vaio laptop computers, Macallan single-malt Scotch, Honda cycles, Bollinger Champagne, Globe-Trotter suitcases, Crockett & Jones footwear, Walther guns, Aston Martin cars, Swarovski jewelry, Omega watches, OPI nail polish, Land Rovers and Range Rovers and all the rest.Some pay for the privilege, some make other arrangements. Some, like the new James Bond fragrance hawked by Procter & Gamble, aren’t in the film. But all told, sponsorship and other ancillary deals for “Skyfall” are said to have brought in $45 million, about a third of what it cost to produce the film, one of the best in the Bond series…

Today’s sophisticated media consumer expects to see brands in TV shows, movies and even video games, according to Tom Weeks, senior vice president at LiquidThread (formerly known as Starcom Entertainment), the branded entertainment and content development operation within Chicago’s Starcom MediaVest Group. But proper context — proper casting — is a must…

Caterpillar, which first tied up with 007 in 1999’s “The World is Not Enough,” hopes the “Skyfall” connection boosts brand awareness, particularly in emerging markets like China, which seems a manageable goal.

Perhaps this kind of brand integration is inevitable: brands are always looking for subtle and not-so-subtle ways to associate their products with being “cool.” And what could be better than Bond, an international spy who doesn’t have stuff at home but instead uses all sorts of gadgets all around the world?

But, I’m reminded of Naomi Klein’s arguments in No Logo about the increasing branding of our world. If Bond is so cool, why does he need to be so connected to brands? Isn’t Bond, like the rock ‘n’ roll stars of the 1960s who built their initial popularity on rebelling and not selling out, just selling out? If Bond has to shill for products, what hope is there for the rest of society? Something doesn’t connect here: Bond’s status is tied to the idea that he isn’t beholden to the trappings of life that hold back average people yet the newer movies are now suggesting he too is just another part of the capitalistic world. Thus, Bond is just another commodity who needs other commodities to be successful. His status is now less dependent on his character or his unique actions, but, like other commodities, is tied to the fate of other commodities.

One thought on “Is James Bond’s social status diminished by product placement?

  1. Pingback: Quick Review: Julius Caesar at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater | Legally Sociable

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