We are now fully and officially into the Daniel Craig era of the James Bond franchise. Begun in 2006 with Casino Royale, it’s been primarily marked by an attempt to bring Bond back to a modicum of reality and begin anew, taking the character back to his beginnings in the British Secret Service and giving him a more raw, violent focus. The move has been compared (seemingly endlessly) to the Matt Damon-starring Bourne series, which featured a super-spy/operative who met every situation with a combination of gile and violence.
Craig’s introductory film also brought with it a handful of other changes. Gone was Q and many of the beyond-belief gadgets. Gone was Moneypenny. In their place was an emotionally scarred Bond who had no one to rely on in the field but himself.
Oh, and he was blond, which for some reason was a big deal for a lot of people.
But now we have Craig’s second outing as Bond, Quantum of Solace. The title, which is pulled from one of Bond-creator Ian Fleming’s short stories, apparently carries little relation to the movie’s plot. Instead the movie more or less picks up where Casino Royale leaves off, with Bond continuing to try and bring down the terror network that was responsible for the death of his lady love in the previous movie.
The problem for the marketing team this time out, though, is that they have to sell this one to the public on its own merits. There’s no more reboot-mania to tap into. The audience knows more or less what to expect from Craig now and so they actually have to present a movie that’s going to be attractive from more traditional points of view. Let’s take a look at how they did.
The teaser poster sets out what the audience can expect very plainly. It shows Bond with a huge honking rifle strolling over a ridge, looking like he’s ready for anyone to give him an excuse to pull the trigger on that bad boy. Anyone who saw Casino Royale will recognize this as where we left Bond at the end of that movie. So it presents in a single image the notion that this movie continues both the shoot-first and let someone else figure out the implications Bond that was introduced in the first movie but also that this is a sequel to that first movie and not just another stand-alone entry in the franchise as just about every other film has been.
The theatrical poster, then, presents a more traditional Bond movie. In this one Bond, gun in hand, strolls across some sort of desert-esque area with this movie’s beauty. It’s very much an attempt to show that the filmmakers have not abandoned the idea of Bond as a ladies man and that people shouldn’t be scared off by the idea that they might have to remember what happened in the first movie. It’s alright, but doesn’t strike as strong a chord as the teaser does.
The teaser trailer, which debuted in front of Sony’s summer tentpole Hancock, brings the audience right back in where we left off in Casino Royale. Bond and M are interogating someone, who is taunting Bond with the memory of the death of Vespa, his love interest in the earlier movie. That clearly sets up this entry as a continuation of that story, which is meant to increase the audience’s dexsire to see it by making it essential to know how the characters continue on.
After that brief bit of scene setting exposition, we’re thrown right into the middle of the action, ad Bond does his usual jumping from speedboats and racing in his Aston Martin and the other action staples of the Bond series. In between all that is M barking orders to shut down his activities and bring him in, seemingly because he’s once again gone rogue while pursuing more of a personal vendetta than a professional mission.
The teaser does a good job of bringing everyone up to speed on where the characters are and what the really broad strokes of the plot will be (Bond seeking revenge) but it’s primary goal is to sell the audience on what it knows about Bond and his movies, which is that they’re filled with wild stunts and beautiful women. For me what it also accomplishes is to cement Craig as the actor to bring the most interesting portrayal of Bond to the screen. While the stunts and the women are great, the places that Craig is taking the Bond character psychologically are really interesting to watch and present the most enticing thing about the movie.
The theatrical trailer is more or less simply an expansion of the teaser. That Bond is seeking revenge for the death of someone he cared about (presumably a woman, though I don’t think that’s ever stated outright) is the dominant theme of the footage and expository dialogue. Between that and some talk of “unfinished business” it’s made pretty clear this is an expansion and continuation of the first movie’s story.
Once again, like in the trailers for Casino Royale, there’s also a strong note of Bond being a renegade who ultimately does the right thing but is simply so emotionally stunted in his thinking that he’s a danger to himself and potentially to others.
What this trailer does in spades, though, is sell a very traditional Bond movie. 75 percent of the shots are of motorcycles flying from boat to boat, Bond falling through glass ceilings and lots and lots of explosions. “Come back in,” the campaign seems to be telling the audience. “Don’t worry about all that press about this being a more cerebral Bond, there’s still plenty of action and adventure for all of you who are looking for that and little else.” That’s fine up to a point, but it leaves those who saw Casino Royale as a breath of fresh air for the franchise feeling a bit put out, like we were lured back in and that the guiding forces that feel things need to be bigger, bigger, bigger each time are back to exercising their will and that the “reboot” was a one-off experiment.
I have to admit that this is one of the best designed official websites I’ve come across. All the content is presented in a widget-esque way that makes it fairly easy to navigate. For the sake of simplicity, though, I’ll stick to the organization as it exists along the top navigation bar on the page.
“News” is how the producers have communicated developments on the film’s production, mostly in the form of video interviews with the crew. All of it is actually distributed and presented on a blog from the official site that comes, naturally, complete with its own RSS feed.
“About the Film” is next and contains sections detailing the movie’s Story as well as information on the Cast and Filmmakers. Everything here is pretty well written and interesting, even if it doesn’t deviate too far from most of what you’ve seen on other movie sites.
You’ll find all the Trailers as well as the video for the movie’s theme song, commercials for the tie-in video game and other behind-the-scenes footage under “Videos.” After that comes “Gallery,” which contains a whopping 40+ stills from both the movie and its shooting.
“Downloads” has the usual IM Icons and Wallpapers to offer, as well as a Widget to grab. There’s also a Fan Kit to download that contains a handful of promotional graphics you can add to your own site if you so choose. I love that more movie sites are adding stuff like this that helps people spread the word themselves.
There are some games under, of course, “Games” that are actually quite fun to play. They’re pretty simple for the most part but worth spending a few minutes avoiding work to check out.
“Partners” links to all those companies that have helped Sony promote the movie and “Promotions” takes you to the sites that have run contests or other things along those lines in a similar vein.
Finally there’s “Mobile,” which is where you’ll find games you can add to your mobile device, an iPhone application that delivers behind-the-scenes video and other content and a couple of downloadable mobile wallpapers. You can read more about the mobile strategy around the movie over at Rick Mathieson’s site.
There was also a YouTube channel that distributed all the behind-the-scenes interviews and some other video content. There are, of course, MySpace and Facebook pages to compliment the effort as well.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
One of the first of many cross-promotions to be announced was one with Avon. Well before the movie’s release – indeed at a point when all we’d seen was a teaser poster and a few set photos – the skin care and beauty company announced Quantum of Solace star Gemma Arterton as the face of the campaign for its new Bond Girl 007 fragrance. The perfume was scheduled to hit shelves around the same time as the movie, with a cross-media campaign featuring Arterton being run in support of that launch.
Sony Ericsson, a corporate cousin of the studio behind the movie, released a limited edition, movie-themed edition of its C902 mobile device, a bit of hardware that is used by the super-spy himself in the film. Sony also created a Missions for Millions contest that involved an online game and a host of co-branded promotions both on and offline.
Heinekin also returned as a product placement and promotional partner for the fifth consecutive Bond movie. Also on the drink front is Smirnoff Vodka and Coca-Cola, which is using its partnership with the movie as the launching pad for a new Coke Zero campaign. The drink is even being temporarily renamed Zero Zero 7 and getting some movie-themed limited edition bottling as part of the tie-in.
The first co-branded TV commercial produced by Coke for their tie-in ran a minute long and was long on glitz and glamour, resembling nothing so much as one of the iconic openings of a Bond film. Consistently using the red and black colors of the Coke Zero brand it also integrated in fast cars, a tough guy walking along dispatching those who would stop him with ease and the constant twisting and turning images that are associated with each film’s title sequence.
Travel site Orbitz wanted people to embrace their inner-Bond with a “Travel Like Bond” giveaway.
The spot also served as the public debut of the theme song written by Jack Black and Alicia Keys. Black, it turns out, was not thrilled with that decision, issuing a statement that his work was intended solely for use in the film and not as part of an advertising campaign for an outside product. The statement was actually meant to make it clear to Black’s fan-base that he had not meant to get into the commercial jingle business, or, more to the point, that he wasn’t selling out to a big company like Coke. It’s all about maintaining his artistic integrity.
There were also a ton of television commercials created for the movie, as well as a hefty amount of online and outdoor advertising done. Not surprising since this is more or less the franchise that Sony is counting on to keep going time and time again in the same way MGM was doing beforehand.
NCM.com redesign sponsorship.
Media and Publicity
Of course one of the biggest media components surrounding any Bond film is the question of who will perform that film’s title theme song. After tons of speculation that it would be perpetual mess Amy Winehouse it was finally announced that Jack White, one half of the White Stripes, and R&B star Alicia Keys would get the honor of appearing on the soundtrack.
Sony got some decent online coverage out of their tactic of holding a blogger event, featuring correspondents from a number of top movie sites, that they labeled The Ultimate Bond Experience. That day featured interviews with Craig and other members of the cast and crew as well as opportunities to ride in Aston Martins and do other very Bond-like activities.
Every Bond movie has come complete with a ton of promotional opportunities for the studio and every media outlet in the world recognizes it as an easy hook on which to hang a bunch of lists of other
As I mentioned at the outset, the major change between this campaign and the one Sony put together for Casino Royale is that there isn’t as much new about Quantum of Solace as there was with the previous film.
That primarily means there isn’t as much of an opportunity to generate substantial buzz around the release as there was with Casino. But it does allow the marketers to build on the positive reception that movie got (for the most part) and see if they can take it to the next logical level.
Judged on its own merits this is a pretty good campaign but it doesn’t seem like it ever really makes it over the hump. There’s lots of good stuff within it but there’s a sense of “oomph” missing that it seems like it needs.
Fortunately the movie’s release is set for a good time. The U.S. Presidential election is now well behind us and is no longer taking up the media’s and the public’s attention. (Sidenote: Someone please explain this to Sarah Palin and her media enablers.) And the only things opening against it are a handful of foreign and independent movies that aren’t going to get nearly the attention or the distribution (even if they might deserve it). So Solace has this weekend all to itself at a time when the public is in need of a light distraction.
That means a campaign that might at times appear a bit lackluster will probably be good enough.
PICKING UP THE SPARE
- 11/19/08: Rick reports that an Australian promotion for Quantum of Solace that utilized mobile QR codes received over 10,000 entries despite, he says, any sort of mainstream media supporting the effort. The success has Sony looking at new and innovative ways to utilize these QR codes in future promotions.
- 5/15/09: The “hypertrailer” for Quantum of Solace that appeared on National CineMedia’s NCM.com was singled out as a finalist for a DOOHA Award for its ability to engage the audience.