Bond is back. And so are the product placements.
Skyfall — the latest film in the James Bond franchise — opens in theaters next month, but the marketing blitz has already begun. This week’s Economist opened with a two-page advertising spread for an Omega Seamaster watch — “James Bond’s Choice” — featuring Daniel Craig.
Not only does Craig endorse the Omega brand personally (see his Omega profile), but his movie character endorses it as well. Per the Omega site:
“As James Bond appears for the 23rd time on the silver screen in SKYFALL, he will once again depend on the OMEGA Seamaster Planet Ocean as he takes down yet another onslaught of villains, all the while seducing the newest Bond girl the films are often so famous for.”
The Omega product page did not specify whether the new Seamaster fired laser beams or if its crown could be used as a grappling hook.
As I write this article, I cannot help but look down at my wrist and long to see an Omega watch on it. Perhaps it was the not-so-subtle implication that it would boost my appeal to women and help me to defeat the forces of evil.
I’m not alone. Every man secretly wants to be James Bond. In Catch Me If You Can, Leonardo DiCaprio — playing real-life master con artist Frank Abagnale Jr. — walks into a tailor shop and orders a suit exactly like the one he saw Sean Connery wear in Goldfinger.
Who could blame him?
In any event, I expect that Swatch Group (UHR in Switzerland), Omega’s parent company, will get a nice sales boost in the fourth quarter from the hype generated by 007’s latest adventure. (I don’t know if I should be embarrassed or proud that I’ll probably be one of those sales. And yes, I’ll get the exact same Seamaster model that Bond wears.)
And there’s a handful of other companies that stand to benefit from an endorsement by Britain’s most notorious spy.
Unfortunately, some of the higher-profile product placements — such as Bond’s Aston Martin or his bespoke Tom Ford suit — are not made by publicly traded companies (Aston Martin was recently sold by Ford (NYSE:F) to a group of private investors, and Tom Ford has never been public).
Still, we have quite a few traded stocks to choose from. I’ll start with Dutch megabrewer Heineken (PINK:HINKY).
Bond purists might be a little disappointed to see 007 drinking a beer rather than his signature vodka martini, but Heineken forked over $45 million to ensure that he does.
To put this in perspective, Heineken’s paid product placement amounts to nearly a third of the movie’s $150 million production budget. Having not seen the movie yet, I’m curious as to what exactly $45 million buys. I’m imagining a scene of Bond killing the villain with a blow to the side of his skull from a Heineken bottle. Regardless, if viewers leave the theaters and stop to grab a beer on the way home, it might prove to be money well spent.
And as a bonus, in addition to being endorsed by Bond, movie junkies might remember that Heineken also was endorsed by the spoof agent Austin Powers in The Spy Who Shagged Me.
I continue to view Heineken as an excellent long-term investment in the rise of the emerging-market consumer. When it is not quenching the thirst of British intelligence operatives, Heineken and its subsidiary brands are the beers of choice in much of Africa, Latin America and now, after its recent acquisition of Asia Pacific Breweries, Southeast Asia.
Next on the list is Sony Corporation (NYSE:SNE). 007 has toted a Sony mobile phone in the past several movies, and according to the website James Bond Lifestyle (yes, it really exists; try the link), he will be carrying a Sony Xperia T.
Sony has fallen on hard times of late, and I doubt if even James Bond is charming enough to convince viewers to forgo an Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone or a Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android-powered phone. But then, this is being written by a person who intends to buy an overpriced luxury watch precisely because he saw James Bond wearing it. We shall see if Sony’s plight improves.
Finally, I’ll leave you with international spirits powerhouse Diageo (NYSE:DEO).
Though Heineken will be stealing the limelight in Skyfall, Bond is best known for sipping his vodka martinis — and shaken, not stirred.
Diageo’s Smirnoff — its most popular vodka brand — has long been a mainstay in the Bond film franchise. Don’t be surprised if the general level of Bond buzz — and Heineken backlash-fueled nostalgia — translates into higher sales of Smirnoff and of Diageo’s higher-end vodka brands like Ketel One and Cîroc.
Like Heineken, Diageo is a core holding in Sizemore Capital portfolios as a long-term play on the rise of the emerging-market consumer. I consider it one of the few stocks I would truly be willing to “buy and forget.”
DEO, HINKY and UHR are held by Sizemore. Charles Sizemore.