There’s no escaping James Bond. Tomorrow Never Dies, the latest installment in MGM/UA’s 007 franchise, doesn’t hit theaters until Dec. 19. But well before you see Pierce Brosnan kicking bad-guy butt on the big screen, you’re certain to spy Her Majesty’s top agent — on TV, in magazines, and on billboards — pitching everything from cell phones to cosmetics. In short, it’s a Bond market out there now.
MGM/UA and a slew of high-profile promotional partners have put together a hefty $100 million global-marketing campaign for Tomorrow, the 19th feature outing for the suave secret agent. That’s the most promo money ever put up for a Bond film and twice as much as was spent on 1995’s Goldeneye. Although some summer blockbusters have boasted bigger marketing budgets — a staggering $250 million was reportedly spent on The Lost World: Jurassic Park — the Bond campaign is impressive when you consider that it includes no kid-friendly fast-food tie-ins. (”Bond is about romance, sex, and vodka,” explains Karen Sortito, MGM/UA’s executive VP of worldwide promotions. ”How does that work with fast food?”) Rather, the studio has hooked up with a narrow spectrum of adult-geared companies, including BMW and Smirnoff. And most notably, that tight focus allowed Tomorrow to lure in a number of partners, such as Heineken, which had never before ventured into Hollywood marketing.
So how exactly was this caper hatched? When a cash-strapped MGM/UA resurrected Bond two years ago, it knew it had a lucrative franchise in hand. (Goldeneye grossed $350 million worldwide.) But unexpectedly, it also got a uniquely high-end marketing showcase. To wit: After introducing its Z3 roadster in Goldeneye, BMW expected to receive 5,000 preorders for the $29,900 vehicle. It received 10,000. Similarly, when the Z3 was offered in Neiman Marcus’ catalog, all 20 vehicles in stock sold out within 30 minutes. Says Sortito, ”Companies will pay for a property that is targeted to their own advertising goals.”
Which explains why businesses such as clothing manufacturer Brioni have jumped on the Bondwagon. ”Here was a chance to clothe the world’s best-dressed man,” says Brioni marketing director Marci Sutin Levin. ”You see him running from an explosion in our cashmere coat, and he couldn’t look better.”
Recognizing the gold mine struck by Goldeneye, Bond’s producers cheerily worked numerous product placements into Tomorrow’s script to lock in partners. Thus 007 will zap bad guys while driving BMW’s new 750iL sedan, remote-control the Beemer with his Ericsson cellular phone, and detonate bombs with his Omega Seamaster watch. And it will be revealed that Bond’s cocktail of choice — do we really need to tell you what it is? — is made with Smirnoff vodka.
MGM/UA execs aren’t the only ones who’ve recognized the spy’s potential. In October, Sony announced plans to produce a series of competing Bond films using producer Kevin McClory’s rights to the characters from 1965’s Thunderball. On Nov. 17, MGM/UA sued Sony for copyright infringement. ”We believe [the suit] has absolutely no merit,” says a Sony spokesman.