James Bond is the best known fictional personality of his time that has helped to shape our world. The American Film Institute places Bond third on its list of 50 Greatest Heroes. Albert Cubby Broccoli, the founder of the Bond films, has estimated that half of the world’s population has seen at least one James Bond movie. It was also estimated that by 2005, Bond movies had made almost $4billion. James Bond films under some other suggestive names seem to have intent to get total global domination through the disruption of national boundaries and governments, as well as the manipulation of the global economy.
There are different types of stories told in films. The narratives found in films tend to fall into certain genres which include love stories, detective films, spy films, romantic comedies, adventures, and fantasy stories. Brode and Deyneka (13) say that all these genres have a formulaic dimension to them. They are based on conventions that specify certain kinds of plots, characters, heroes, and villains among other things.
Product placement has become more insistently visible, dropping the façade of stealth promotion and drawing attention to itself in overt modes of textual performance. Grainge says that the culmination of this tendency is expressed in the development of major commercial tie-ins that explicitly integrate film and consumer brands, typified by the $20 million that BMW paid for the placement campaign surrounding the launch of its Z3 Roadster. The car appears centrally in the marketing and plot sequences of the James Bond movie (Grainge 35).
As a form of commercial spectacle, the James Bond movie’s visibility of product placement since the 1980s has responded to the formalization of relations between the film business and global consumer industries. Yet, the cultural significance of James Bond movie cannot simply be read from these industrial synergisms.
The films of the James Bond series represent a real war machine that has been operated for 40 years by the same company Eon Productions. Lehu (2007) says that since their creation, the James Bond films have been seen by approximately 3 billion viewers and have brought in more than US$3.3 billion over 20 films. Lehu (2007) says that a film costs US$200 million to produce because for the films promotion, the production invests US$100 million in buying advertising space and in publishing fees worldwide, in order to target the 18-25n year olds who represent the main target or 70% of the viewers.
The spy genre targets males aged 35-55 years by seducing them through the car. Lehu (2007) argues that different types of partnerships have therefore been set up which include a placement for car products in the film. The tie in partnership with BMW for its cinema release accounts for the total media investment of US$15 million for the advertiser, spread over the purchase of advertising space, and intensive communication.
Also, James Bond films concentrate on women, an important target because they are often influential in choosing a film. This has had important contribution to the global entertainment economy because the product placement and promotion operations are defined so as to enable the chosen brand’s marketing and promotion, , which is especially common with cosmetic products. This approach may include setting up promotional activities such as competitions (Lehu, 2007).
James Bond movies have shaped global entertainment economy in several ways. For example James Bond’s watch is an Omega because it is one of the only brands that really fit the characters image. In order to permanently register the brand in the series, a partnership between Omega and Film Media Consultant was agreed with the media investment by the advertiser of $7-8 million per film. Omega has benefited from sales peaks of 35% after the release of each of the films.
Statistically 10% of James Bond viewers are part of the secondary targets. 60 million people are therefore affected by the film’s promotion. Also, in each James Bond, there are three or four major partnerships made up of both product placements and tie-in promotions and four or five partners without placements in the film. Lehu (2007) indicates that the spy genre done by James Bond engages in heavy duty communication for the cinema release. Research shows that this investment in the film’s promotion will generate US$200-300 million in final box office receipts.
The depiction of James Bond spy genre of villainy in Bond films differs somewhat from that in Ian Fleming’s original novels where James Bond patriotic feelings, sense of decency, and restrained heterosexual appetite play against criminal barbarity, community deceit, colonial corruption, and rampant sexual perversion (Pomerance 173). The producers of James Bond, ever aware of the need to address a global market with their British produced product have had to downplay the novel’s use of Englishness as a moral anchor.
Hudson indicates that placing a destination in a film is the ultimate product placement (436). Hudson noted that the Hilton in Nassau boasts a Double O suite stocked with James Bond movies, soundtracks, posters, movie stills and memorabilia from the filming. Hudson (437) notes that dive sites are the most popular film tourism attractions in the Bahamas. Divers just love the connection to the James Bond Movie sites.
It has been established that a more variegated independent film political economy has evolved over the last decade. The James Bond movie has brought about changes because the independent scene has to be more interdependent between the corporate media, independent ventures, new exhibition formations, new technologies, and the public sector (Holmlund and Wyatt 217). With 21st century convergence and proliferating analogue and digital platforms, film exhibition is no longer about selling movies in a theatre. James Bond films are franchise products; large blockbusters with product tie-ins.
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James Bond movies have become an integral part of the pop culture after Bond’s introduction in 1953 in the genre of Casino Royale. James Bond became a pop icon and largely influenced culture. As a modern day superhero spy, he is adaptive to change and yet retains his essential character. The James bond blockbuster series achieve its appeal by the virtue of being one consecutive ongoing narrative, complete with an opening sequence involving a gun barrel, scantily clad or nude women in silhouette and a signature musical theme. Danesi says that the James Bond Movies on the other hand allow audience to enter a ritualistic thrill ride with the hero (179).
Packer says that in the influence of advertising puff and sound bite hyperbole that is the gristmill of mainstream movie criticism, one can find clues as to how the culture industry wants audiences to frame and interpret its products (77). Focusing on the most imaginative of this genre, the spy kid series, it will situate their view of culture and the role of children within culture as media spectacles that manifest dynamic visions of childhood that lie somewhere between Norman Rockwell’s idyllic child-scape and it negative image. Packer observes that despite the formal similarities in the movies their ideological differences are many (179).
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From a cultural perspective, the James Bond movie teaches audiences to value the vigilant paternal protection of the nation-state. The James Bond movies serve a very different ideology - one that inverts the priorities of the old nation state model and refocuses itself on the family centred world of consumptive leisure (Packer 179). Children have been missing in the James Bond films for as reason. Packer saysthat the implicit ideology of the Bond films was that the hidden world of geopolitical espionage made the older notions of childhood follow those expressed in the view of children cultivated by Norman Rockwell possible.
In most James Bond movies, parents and children come to covet its dashing world of action and style with time. Packer says that it was only a matter of time until the culture industry appropriated the formula into the rapidly emerging market for children (79). Many studies have indicated that the last decade has witnessed an explosion of kid’s media spectacles that both constitute and reinforce a new notion of childhood better suited to the ideology of the 21st century media culture.
The forces of commercial media culture have concluded that the idyllic kind of childhood implicit in the James Bond films is largely a nostalgic concept that is not good for business. It is therefore as if the kind of compensatory adult oriented commodity market which Toby Miller has discussed in relation to Bond and anxious consumers was needed. Packer articulates that as opposed to the charmed world of childlike innocence one might find in older Rockwell-like cultural forms the post-modern kinder culture of late industrial capitalism, which is grounded on its rejection of that older world characterized by its lack of agentive children.
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In the spy genre, many product integrations are more involved than a simple mention of the brand in the dialogue or the logo visible in the scene. This has changed the global entertainment economy because product integrations are often intimately tied to the character in the story or to the storyline. Shrum says that the things used in James Bond movies are closely tied to the nature of the character and they are part of his essence (25). Shrum continues to say that although conditioning or more exposure may well be a part of why there may be higher order processing related to the integrations in these circumstances (25). Other minor and major characters appearing in the series between 1981 and 1999 undergo significant transformations; therefore, a detailed study of this phenomenon is required. This work provides close insights into the cultural image of women in the second half of the 20th century from a Bondian stories’ perspective; thus, it offers a medium to which readers of all ages can relate and which a wide ranging audience can enjoy.
James Bond reached the status of popular hero in the mid 1960s bringing an explosion of press coverage and Bond-themed merchandise and advertising. Fraterrigo says that Colgate-Palmolive launched the 007 line of men’s toiletries with a misogynistic slogan that called forth the linkage of seduction and masculine power in the Bond narratives (155). During this period, sales of Flemings Bond novels peaked and several other Bond inspired playboy spy adventure films appeared.
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The “Bond girl” became a cultural phenomenon, helped along by pictorials in the famous spy genre playboy and other men’s magazines such as Mayfair. Fraterrigo says that significantly, the pictorials became a contractual obligation for the actress who played Bond’s companions (155). Playboy even teamed with United Artists to sponsor a James Bond Girl contest that awarded the winner a role in a subsequent 007 film. Fraterrigo further says that like the Playmate, the Bond girl made no demands for security and marriage (155). Providing voyeuristic pleasure, she also embodied unencumbered sexuality.
Nnemann have found that during the last decade, the James Bond movies have played an important role in global entertainment economy as a result of the practice of placing brand logos and products’ names in his movies or television series (1). In James Bond movies, product placement, also known as paid product message, is aimed at influencing movie audiences via the planned and unobtrusive entry of a branded product into a movie. This placement should not necessarily have to be paid in hard dollar terms by the marketer. It can involve mutually advantageous marketing campaigns or mere brand or product inclusions. In the English culture, the films do not simply champion an English-derived code of decency. Also, the luxuries Bond enjoys are somehow attainable and they act as a guide to how to behave in certain situation.
From the cultural perspective, it almost goes without saying that James Bond is a phenomenon. Porterfield, Polette and Baumlin say that in Britain the Bond movie forms part of the national consciousness (106). Despite their facile appearance Bond films actually act as a psychological container for a series of contradictions and tensions in British self identity. Because of the success of the films and their sheer scale in the global entertainment it might be tempting to see Bond Movies as modern myths. It is therefore important to note that not all asymmetry involves coercion and domination. Hence, when symmetrical relationships are rare, it is indeed very difficult to find social life. The Bond films for all their fascination with modern technology and modern attitude to sexual relations are bound to tradition. Bond on himself represents the perfect indestructibility of a traditional national identity, a class style and a gender role.
Comentale, Watt and Willman say that Bond’s role as a virtual surrogate American hero in several movies has led some commentators to claim him for American popular culture (140). Other people argue that the Bond films are the first truly global media phenomenon of the modern age, crossing the boundaries of language, social background, and culture. The argument that Bond represents a form of the American cultural imperialism is highly contestable and it ignores the origin of James Bond in the British historical and generic context, as well as it marginalizes the ideologies of Britishness that inform the Bond narratives (Comentale, Watt and Willman 141).
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While the literary Bond is a uniquely British cultural and ideological construct, it is probably appropriate to regard the cinema’s Bond as neither purely British nor wholly American. but rather as an international construct. Comentale, Watt and Willman have established that the continuation of Bond is an eloquent testimony to the enduring cultural potency of Fleming’s creation and to the myth making powers of the Bond filmmaker (142). It is also due to a large extent to the ideological flexibility of the Bond Character and various forms of Britishness that it represents.
In conclusion, the inference in James Bond movies typically drawn from their influence on the global entertainment economy comes as a response to changing attitudes of the consumer market. On the other hand, the spy genre could have gone the other way because the films’ fantasy of self indulgence is more appealing. The conventional response is that filmmakers have to be responsible for sensibility which is necessarily in conflict with the element of fantasy at their heart. It should be noted that although James Bond movies are always attempting to anchor their narratives in historical specifics, there only exists a rhythmic succession of type-situations which are significant both socially and culturally.