Big brands renew Bond with 007 6 partners shell out $100 mil-plus for placement at 'Casino' table


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.

"We don't like one-time product-placement deals," said Keith Snelgrove, senior vp global business strategy at EON Prods., which has produced all 21 Bond films. "Our partnerships are very successful, and our partners always come back."

Criticized in the past for partnering with too many advertisers on Bond fare, Snelgrove said the company made a "conscious decision" to have fewer bigger partners this time around. The six tie-in partners on "Casino" reportedly are 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. Ford supplied the production with about 125 vehicles, including Bond's pricey Aston Martin DBS.

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 on a Bond film to shoot its commercial on the set of the movie and the only partner on "Casino" 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.

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, which makes its debut in "Casino." The automaker's new 2007 Ford Mondeo, the first car Bond is seen driving in "Casino," also makes its first appearance in the movie. 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," is back with a full-scale global promotion.

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

One new partner to the Bond franchise is Virgin Atlantic Airways, whose chairman, Richard Branson, makes a cameo in the film.