There is no bad in Bond. Oh sure there’s “lesser Bond” (I’m looking at you, Roger Moore) but for me at least even that lesser Bond is still a better time at the movies or with a movie than most other options. Not only am I just a big fan of spy stories, having grown up on classic Connery Bond films as well as Tom Clancy books/movies and more, but there’s just something about the swagger and style of the character that I get. Not that I have any part of that in my own life, but it’s a great escapist fantasy for me, someone who can get himself out of any situation with either his brains or his fists, whichever is going to be better in the moment. Sometimes he’s all brute force, sometimes he’s all suave charm.
Bond is back in his 24th official big-screen outing, Spectre. Picking up after the events of 2012’s Skyfall, Bond (Daniel Craig) has a new M he’s reporting to (Ralph Fiennes) and things are starting off a bit rough as James disobeys a direct order while on a mission in Mexico. The outcome of that mission, though, leads him on a winding road toward a mysterious organization that has ties to just about everything else he’s done in his time at MI6. So it’s up to Bond to not only stop the immediate threat but also to dismantle Spectre and take down its leader (Christoph Waltz) once and for all.
The teaser poster told the audience pretty much everything it needed to know; That Bond was back and that he’d be squaring off against Spectre, which any fan worth their salt would recognize immediately as a classic foe. The image of the glass shattered by a bullet is good in and of itself, but when you realize the lines radiating out toward the bottom of the frame form something like spider legs the image takes on a new sense of menace.
Shortly after that the next poster was only slightly less minimalistic. Craig is standing in the middle of the frame, gun drawn and wearing a form-fitting black outfit like you would expect to see if Bond were on some sort of night incursion. Craig’s glowering at the camera combined with the violence and threat implied in the posture and attire all combine to show that, as we’ve seen in previous installments, this is a no-nonsense adventure James is about to embark on.
The third poster is probably the weakest so far. In this one Bond is wearing a white tuxedo suit, his gun drawn while his arms are crossed in front of him. But in the back is a faded image of someone in a death mask like they’re part of the Day of the Dead celebration. That may be a nod to what’s seems to be the movie’s opening sequence, but the overall layout comes off more like a magazine ad than a poster for a franchise of this weight and reputation. It’s not bad, necessarily, it’s just weak.
Shortly after that a fourth one-sheet hit that was much better. We still get Bond (of course) but this time he’s standing more casually, though his sidearm is still drawn and hanging at his side. This time he’s joined by Léa Seydoux, who stands beside and behind him in the classic “woman looks over her shoulder so we can see her backside as well as the side of her breasts” pose which is more than a little cliched as a design trope. The Day of the Dead figure is still in the background, though this time it’s in full color and doesn’t come off quite as oddly as it did in the earlier version.
An IMAX release poster was released that was completely sans-Bond, showing just the mysterious person in the Day of the Dead mask, staring out at us and promising that the the movie was coming in IMAX.
The first teaser is all about setting up the mysteries the movie will have. It opens showing the wreckage of MI6 headquarters after the events of the last movie followed by Moneypenny giving James some personal effects from Skyfall while intimating that he has a secret. Then we see Bond on his way to meet someone in a remote location, someone who is connected to Spectre. Finally Bond enters the proverbial lion’s den, where it seems he’s expected.
It works pretty well to setup the action of the movie, though there’s a decided lack of actual action. Instead this has more of a tone of intrigue and suspense as opposed to lots of car chases and other sequences. It feels maybe a little soft because there’s not much going on, but if you’re a fan of the more contemplative Bond of the last few movies then this may appeal to you.
The next trailer opens with the Day of the Dead celebration, an operation that goes bad for James. Then we cut to Bond getting some new hardware from Q Branch before going to confront the same guy we saw in the first teaser. We start to get hints that he’s chasing down an evil organization and see some of the women he’ll encounter on his quest. He’s the common thread in the whole mystery, a mystery that’s underlined when Not Blofeld starts narrating and talking about how he’s always been just out of Bond’s reach. After a few more action sequences we get Not Blofeld again taunting James, playing up the connection between the two of them.
This feels like much more of a traditional Bond trailer, with guns and women and helicopter-based action sequences and more. This is for the core Bond fan, straight up.
The final trailer immediately starts out with Bond on the trail of Spectre. This one plays up the hunt Bond is on, focusing on a face-to-face confrontation with Blofeld and featuring some of the key action sequences in the movie since we can’t forget that these movies are all about the the spectacle. It’s short and sweet and to the point, adding just a little additional flavoring to what we’ve seen before.
Online and Social
Since Spectre is just one part of the larger official 007 website we’re just going to focus on that section as opposed to the whole thing, which celebrates the entire history of the character.
The first thing you find on that site is a “Synopsis” that’s a few paragraphs long in a header, with a gallery of recent news updates below that. Those same stories can be found in the “News” section, which is the first option in the top menu bar. After that is “Trailers & TV Spots,” which has all the videos you can scroll through and play. “Behind the Scenes” has more videos, but this time more in the “featurette” category that go into the production and provide more details on the story and characters in the movie.
There are over two dozen stills in the “Gallery.” And “Posters” has all the posters and other key art used in the marketing. The next section is called “Cars” but the only thing there is a video showing off the latest Aston Martin. “Cast & Crew” lets you dive into the actors and talent behind the camera and read brief bios of them.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
TV spots for the movie hit many of the same notes as the trailers, though obviously they couldn’t go into the depths of those longer videos. But spots like this give the audience everything they need to know about this latest movie: It contains guns, explosions, car chases through exotic locales and Bond being a bit of a womanizer. It’s effective as short-form content in that it provides basic awareness for the audience to latch on to.
Bond films are always great for consumer products tie-ins and this one is no exception.
In the most common sense tie-in of all time, Aston Martin announced (THR, 9/4/15) a special “Bond Edition” DB9 sports car that featured 007 license plates and lots of other franchise branding throughout. Also on the car front was a tie-in with Jaguar Land Rover, who placed a couple of their cars in the movie and who rolled out brand new models that were billed as their most advanced ever.
Sony joined the action with the “Made for Bond” campaign for its Xperia Z5 phone. That campaign included TV spots starring actress Naomie harris, who plays Moneypenny in the movie, but not Bond himself. There were other media executions as well.
Bond would actually appear in ads for Heineken, the centerpiece of which is an extended ad that features the super-spy unwittingly involving an innocent bystander in his escapades before she actually saves him, all while deftly balancing a tray of beer.
Other partners included:
- Globe-Trotter luggage would produce a line of Spectre-branded items.
- MAC Cosmetics was featured as being instrumental to the look and feel of the movie, particularly the Day of the Dead sequence.
- Visit Britain, which encouraged people to come and live like Bond for a day
- Belvedere Vodka created 007-branded bottle of vodka and co-branded advertising
- Omega created limited edition movie-branded watches
- Gillette ran co-branded ads that made their razors an integral part of leading a non-dull life
- Tom Ford had a line of menswear featured in the film that was also available for purchase
The movie would become the first paid sponsorship within Snapchat’s “Discover” news feature, showing off behind-the-scenes photos and videos from some of the key action sequences and more for just 24 hours in keeping with the app’s ephemeral content.
Media and Publicity
In what is a pretty regular beat for the Bond franchise, one of the first things that was discussed was whether or not Craig would be returning after this installment, to which he responded with a firm “probably not” (Vanity Fair, 9/1/15) or words to that effect. Much was made of this despite the fact that this kind of response was not only vague but familiar to anyone who’s been watching Bond actors over the years. Of course that was all followed later on by news that yeah, Craig was signed for at least one more Bond film (EW, 10/1/15) and that he just needed a break before considering his future with the franchise.
Months and months of speculation were finally confirmed when news broke (Billboard, 9/8/15) that yes, indeed, melancholic British singer Sam Smith would be recording the theme song for this installment of the franchise.
There was lots more, of course, with the cast and crew doing the press rounds which sometimes turned into hot takes about Daniel Craig’s attitude or approach to the media. And there were plenty of stories about the Bond Women, especially Monica Bellucci, who got lots of attention for being the oldest romantic interest in the 50 year life of these movies, herself just a couple years younger than the franchise itself. Still, the inherent sexism of pointing out a woman’s age as being newsworthy is kind of…icky.
(Ed Note: I know there was a lot more, but as I’ve stated before, I’m still largely in catch-up mode here and so don’t have a full collection of stories that span that entirety of the campaign.)
As much of a Bond fan as I am, I’m sensing a bit of bloat here. I have no doubt the movie will open huge and be immensely successful – the campaign hits all the right notes to sell a mass audience on the experience – but I’m concerned we’re slipping back into the same territory the series was in during the last couple Pierce Brosnan films, only without the sense of whimsy.
Again, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the campaign and think it does its job well in setting up some larger mystery that’s tied to Bond’s past. And I’m a fan of how the Craig movies are all building off one another, with this potentially serving as the culmination of those stories. But it might be reaching just a bit too far since the marketing works really hard to make everything seem really big in a way that the movie itself may not be able to deliver on.