Heineken has paired Daniel Craig with a female side-kick in its new $100m (£64m) global ad campaign ahead of the next James Bond film Spectre, a timely coincidence weeks after the 007 actor labelled the spy a “sexist misogynist”.
For almost 20 years Heineken, which is also sinking a considerable sum to promote its sponsorship of the Rugby World Cup which kicked off on Friday, has always featured a male everyman who gets caught up in an adventure with Bond in the big budget TV commercials.
The beer giant has broken with tradition to balance the gender bias to feature a female side-kick who helps Bond out of a scrape in the new campaign, which breaks on TV and in cinemas globally on Tuesday.
Although unplanned, the theme of the campaign, which starts with a mobile-first debut of the ad on Facebook, coincidentally dovetails with Craig’s comments earlier this month lamenting the moral deficiencies of the Bond character.
The actor, who will be starring as Bond for the fourth and penultimate time in Spectre which opens on 6 November, told Esquire magazine that the character was “lonely” living a life as a “sexist misogynist”.
“There is always a lot of criticism [about Bond],” said Hans Erik Tuijt, director of global sponsorship at Heineken, speaking about the beer brand’s traditional “man of the world” marketing strategy. “Why not a woman? We thought it was an excellent time to introduce a woman of the world. If you look at other campaigns, it is always a man of the world that saves the day [alongside Bond]. We thought it was time to introduce a woman of the world [to the campaign]. It is the first time the Heineken character is a woman”.
The ad – which features a cameo from Herve Villechaize, who played the evil henchman Nick Nack in 1974 film Man With The Golden Gun – does admittedly see the heroine sport a bikini.
Nevertheless, she is portrayed as indispensable in helping save Bond from villains pursuing him – including plenty of shots of Heineken bottles.
The beer brand will feature in the film with Bond likely to take a swig of a beer in a change from his usual beverage of choice of a martini, shaken not stirred.
In 2012’s Skyfall, Bond is seen taking a sip of Heineken, a move which annoyed some 007 purists.
A Heineken spokesman pointed out that despite his connection with martinis, there are numerous references to Bond enjoying a cold one in Ian Fleming’s original novels and also in films including On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Quantum of Solace.
“There is no doubt that James Bond will always be synonymous with ‘shaken not stirred’, but he is a man of the world, so it’s not surprising that a contemporary Bond might enjoy a Heineken beer occasionally,” said a spokesman.
Heineken is the only partner of the heavily-commercialised Bond film allowed to make an ad starring Craig.
The beer brand gains exclusive access to the actor playing 007 – other commercial partners have to settle for only being allowed to show stock footage from Bond films in marketing campaigns – in a relationship dating back to Tomorrow Never Dies in 1997.
The campaign also includes a bold marketing endeavour that will see competition winners attend a location outside Las Vegas where Heineken will take “the world’s first ever selfie from space”.
Heineken has called the event Spyfie, naturally, and has struck a deal with a company called Urthecast to take an ultra HD image from a camera on a satellite in orbit 600km above the earth’s surface.
“You want to have an integrated campaign,” said Tuijt. “Bond is a very inspiring partnership and you need a digital touchpoint. We wanted something new, with a spy theme. A Spyfie from space. It is a very Bond-esque location [near] Hoover Dam.”
The campaign also includes more than 500m Spectre branded Heineken bottles that will carry a code to allow fans to unlock exclusive online video content related to the filming of the movie, such as behind the scenes footage.
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