Promoters put great stock in Bond

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Bond is back. And so are many of the brands that have been featured in previous James Bond features, some going as far back as the first film, 1962's "Dr. No."

Along with their prominent placement in "Casino Royale," six brands -- Heineken, Ford, Smirnoff Vodka, Sony Electronics, Sony Ericsson and Omega watches -- have spent more than $100 million on media and other promotional support for the movie, which opens today with British actor Daniel Craig in his maiden voyage as agent 007.

"Because we're a family business and because we treat everyone like family, we don't like to switch partners," said Keith Snelgrove, senior vp global business strategy of EON Prods., which is owned by the Broccoli family and has produced all 21 Bond films. "We don't like one-time product placement deals. Our partnerships are very successful and our partners always come back." Bond is one of the rare film franchises that began integrating brands long before the practice became a hot trend in Hollywood.

Criticized in the past for partnering with too many advertisers on Bond fare, EON's Snelgrove said the company made a "conscious decision" to have fewer bigger partners this time around. The six tie-in partners on "Royale" are reportedly spending about the same as 10 brands did on "Die Another Day" in 2002.

Snelgrove said EON accepts "very, very little straight cash" for integrating brands into Bond films. "Our real goal is to ensure we have a huge opening weekend so we're looking for cross-promotional advertising dollars," he said. Of course, brands like Ford and Sony are also providing a tremendous cost savings to the filmmakers by supplying the production with high-ticket items at no cost. Ford supplied the production with about 125 vehicles, including Bond's pricey Aston Martin DBS, while transporting cars to the Bahamas, the Czech Republic, Italy and England.

Heineken, which is back as Bond's beer of choice for the fourth consecutive film since first appearing in 1997's "Tomorrow Never Dies," is the first promotional partner ever on a Bond film to shoot its commercial on the set of the movie and is the only partner on "Casino Royale" to feature a lead actor in its ad campaign. French actress Eva Green appears in character as Vesper Lynd in the Heineken spot, which also features the original Bond theme song.

"This campaign is truly original due to our partnership with Eon and Columbia Pictures, commitment of James Bond talent and the on-location filming," said Christopher Carroll, Heineken's global marketing manager.

Ford, whose vehicles first appeared in "Goldfinger" in 1964 and in 17 other Bond films since, is back with Bond behind the wheel of the new Aston Martin DBS, which makes its debut in "Royale." The automaker's new 2007 Ford Mondeo, the first car Bond is seen driving in "Royale," also makes its first appearance in the movie. Ford built several of the new DBS and Mondeo models especially for the film since they were not yet even in production. "We want to have cool stuff in our film that's not readily available," Snelgrove said. "Bond needs to be driving the greatest and the newest cars." Ford's promotion is limited to Europe, where the Mondeo will be sold.

Smirnoff Vodka, which debuted as Bond's vodka of choice in "Dr. No" and appeared in every Bond flick except "Die Another Day" in 2002, is back with a full scale global promotion. Omega, which has been Bond's watch choice since "GoldenEye" in 1995, is selling two new Seamaster 007 limited edition watches as part of its promotion.

Sony Electronics, whose products first appeared in "Die Another Day" in 2002, is offering Bond fans an exclusive collection featuring limited-edition 007 branded models of VAIO TX and UX series ultra-portable PCs, Cyber-shot digital cameras and Micro-Vault media storage devices as part of its promotion. Sony Ericsson, whose Bond debut dates back to "Tomorrow Never Dies" in 1997, is selling special versions of the K800 and K790 Cyber-shot camera phones. It is the first time the Sony companies, whose association with Bond predates Sony Pictures' first-time involvement with the franchise, are selling licensed product based on an entertainment property.

One new brand integration partner to "Royale" is Virgin Atlantic Airways, whose chairman Richard Branson makes a cameo appearance in the film.
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