There has been much to-do in the drinking world about a certain aspect of the upcoming James Bond film, Skyfall. The problem, it seems, is Bond’s choice of a Heineken beer rather than his traditional “shaken and not stirred” martini, which many consider as both an egregious affront to the character’s legacy as well as an another all too common and unfortunately heavy handed example of product placement.
When the news broke regarding Heineken’s role in the film earlier this month, you would have thought the world was ending. And for some, perhaps it was. Most of the discussion on the matter was either matter-of-fact or completely overblown. However, I found one article by Forbes contributor Larry Olmstead that I particularly enjoyed.
Olmstead states his central point early: “Alas, as the film series has moved beyond the actual Ian Fleming novels on which almost all of them were based, it has embraced ever more blatant product placements, and in the process, many authentic Bond touches have been swept under the rug.”
A fair point. Yet, after summarizing several products Bond has hawked over the years – most notably cars, watches, and vodkas – Olmstead states the matter’s importance: “But switching him to beer is something quite different, a paradigm shift from his love of martinis…Furthermore, if Bond did drink beer, it would almost certainly be something more substantial than the ubiquitous Dutch lager, like an ale, porter or stout, likely of the British variety.”
While he makes several acceptable arguments – even sarcastically proposing the next film “sell off naming rights to his iconic codename – he could ditch the 007 moniker and become simply Agent Emirates” – Olmstead certainly never faults the moviemakers for their decision. And, as it turns out, neither does Daniel Craig, the actor presently playing the iconic British spy.
In a recent interview, Craig explained the necessary evil of advertising in moviemaking: “We have relationships with a number of companies so that we can make this movie. The simple fact is that, without them, we couldn’t do it. It’s unfortunate but that’s how it is… This movie costs a lot of money to make, it costs as nearly as much again if not more to promote, so we go where we can. The great thing is that Bond is a drinker, he always has been, it’s part of who he is, rightly or wrongly, you can make your own judgment about it, having a beer is no bad thing, in the movie it just happens to be Heineken.”
I personally don’t have a problem with such advertising as long as it doesn’t blatantly detract from the plot or border on the ridiculous. And when looking back over Bond’s past exploits involving invisible cars, suitcase helicopters, stealth boats, or the innumerable laser watches and weapons, Bond enjoying a cold beer is perfectly acceptable to me. Especially if it helps encourages production of another Bond film.