What does the latest “Made for Bond” Sony Xperia Z5 smart ad campaign for the film Spectre have in common with E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial? It’s not just product placement but star-powered branded content tied to the film.
Yes, E.T.‘s Reese’s Pieces inclusion is the most commonly-cited product placement of all time, often referenced as the spark for the modern age’s product placement industry. But what many don’t cite is how the latest spate of expanded movie tie-ins—like Sony’s new 007 campaign—can also be traced back to E.T. and Coors. (Yes, the beer.)
Also, in a cheeky turn, Sony has managed to put James Bond in its new “Made for Bond” ad without actor Daniel Craig:
In what was one of the worst kept movie marketing secrets in recent memory, Sony’s “Made For Bond” short film stars Bond icon Miss Moneypenny—played actress Naomie Harris—taking part in a spot of clandestine cloak and dagger work using the Xperia Z5 phone and its slow-mo and night-sight technology.
At the end of the film, Moneypenny calls our favorite agent, saying, “Bond… I’ve got your phone. Will you do me a favor next time…?” The ad will soon extend to print and other media.
Current Bond star Craig never appears in the ad. And that’s probably because, thanks to the now infamous Sony Studio email leak, it was revealed that Craig and Spectre producers turned down $5 million from Sony to promote the phone. Sony went ahead, sans Craig, placing Bond in its commercial—for free—in the best way it could. But why?
”BEYOND the $$ factor, there is, as you may know, a CREATIVE factor whereby Sam [Mendes] and Daniel don’t like the Sony phone for the film (the thinking, subjectively/objectively is that James Bond only uses the ‘best,’ and in their minds, the Sony phone is not the ‘best’),” wrote President of Worldwide Business Affairs and Operations for Columbia Pictures, Andrew Gumpert, to parent company Sony in one of the leaked emails. Ouch.
Yet Sony felt the need to press on anyway, enlisting one of the film’s lesser stars. (Incidentally, the rejection to Sony is not the only recent news of filmmakers snubbing big money from brands; a new documentary about the Back to the Future franchise reveals that Ford offered $75,000 to get Doc out of his DeLorean and into a Mustang. Future Director’s Robert Zemeckis’ reply? “Doc Brown doesn’t drive a f—ing Mustang.”)
The Sony/Bond situation was an embarrassment for all involved: Sony for shoehorning the product tie-in despite the leaked emails, which undermine the whole project; and Craig for pretending his tenure as Bond is above marketing Sony products. In both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace—Craig’s first two Bond movies—007 used numerous Sony products and Craig featured in Sony adverts. Sony products were also ubiquitous in the last Bond film, Skyfall.
So what is the “best” when it comes to Bond? Well, Daniel Craig has been photographed leaving the Apple Store with one of those telltale iPhone boxes, so we know where the actor’s personal preference lies.
Meanwhile, extending the film action beyond the screen with a film’s stars has been popular lately. Cadillac recently released a short film in conjunction with the film Entourage, called Ari Gold is Back starred actor Jeremy Piven in character.
Entourage partner Johnnie Walker also released a similar film starring actor Kevin Dillon in character as Johnny Drama.
For The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Audi debuted a short film starring Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee.
But in 1982, E.T. also starred in an offscreen product tie-in: Coors. After everyone’s favorite alien got drunk on Coors in the film, Coors issued a print ad public service message. In a bar keep’s apron and on behalf of Coors, E.T. implores those who’ve had too much to, yes, “phone home.”