Rumours have been circulating for some time on web forums and in film magazines, and now even ex James Bond actor George Lazenby has joined in the discussion. So what is the commotion surrounding the new Bond film Skyfall all about? Apparently 007 is no longer sipping vodka martinis, he's swigging beer. Heineken beer.
The image of the distinguished secret agent is incomplete without a well-fitting tuxedo, designer watch, Aston Martin and a beautiful woman at his side. And of course a “Vodka martini. Shaken, not stirred.” Preferably under a palm tree or in an exclusive casino bar.
“Of course it would not be fitting for Bond to order a beer in a setting like that. That would be going too far,” says Merlijn Kuiper of James Bond Netherlands, a Dutch news website on the super spy. “But drinking beer on a beach in Mexico would be fine.”
Multi-million dollar deal
George Lazenby, the Australian who played Bond in just one film - On Her Majesty's Secret Service, is furious with US gossip site TMZ. On the site, he points out that a sacred tradition has been broken in the 23rd Bond film, Skyfall, and adds that the filmmakers have sold out for big bucks. Lazenby notes: "It's not the best beer out there, either."’
“Lazenby can’t complain,” says Jasper Hartog of the Bondblog.nl website. "He played in one James Bond movie and asks a fee for any appearance that has to do with Bond.”
“It is just a hype. Bond films have always been packed with advertising products. From expensive Seiko watches to Philips gadgets in the 1980s,” says Matthijs Ruppert who runs the Dutch James Bond fan website. “It’s not such a bad thing.”
In spite of his personal reservations, Merlijn Kuiper thinks Lazenby’s comments are a bit misplaced: “When British manufacturer Aston Martin supplies eight cars, everyone applauds, because it is good for car sales. Can’t Heineken do the same?”
James Bond and the Dutch brewery have had commercial relations since 1997, when the film Tomorrow Never Dies came out. Since then the brand has popped up – albeit in the background – a number of times. In exchange, Heineken is allowed to use the Bond logo on its bottles, cans and advertising.
However, this year – the fiftieth anniversary of the first Bond film - Heineken has opted for a higher profile. The company is reported to have paid 45 million dollars to have Bond actor Daniel Craig drink its beer. It is a well-kept secret how many times he does this and when.
Heineken has declined to respond by telephone, but wrote in an email, “it’s a persistent misunderstanding that James Bond won’t be drinking vodka martinis anymore. He certainly will.” And what’s more, explains Mr Hartog, “James Bond has ordered and drunk beer before in License to Kill and Quantum of Solace.”
Daniel Craig doesn’t see the problem. “It is not a bad thing if Bond drinks a beer,” he told US website Moviefone, “Bond is a drinker, he always has been, it’s part of who he is, rightly or wrongly. You can make your own judgement about it. Having a beer is no bad thing, in the movie it just happens to be Heineken.”
He realises all too well that the entertainment industry cannot exist without product placement. Mega-productions which cost hundreds of millions of dollars are only possible because of sponsors. He calls it an "unfortunate" but necessary part of making a movie on the scale of "Skyfall."
The Skyfall will premier on 26 October.