A dry spy: James Bond goes alcohol-free in Heineken ad
James Bond is changing with the times, and so is the way Heineken is using him in marketing. The brewer—which has rankled some Bond purists with previous product placement deals that had Bond swapping a Heineken for his standard martini—is taking it a step further this year. It's plugging its non-alcoholic Heineken 0.0 as part of a campaign tied to the April release of “No Time To Die,” which some observers are pegging as the “wokest Bond film yet.”
No, Bond is not swearing off booze. But he is apparently experimenting with moderation, which is quite a change for a character so associated with cocktails that a 2018 study from The Medical Journal of Australia, called “License to Swill,” diagnosed the character with “severe alcohol use disorder.”
The campaign by Publicis Italy includes one spot that shows Daniel Craig’s Bond passing on an elaborately garnished “Double O” martini because, as he says, “I’m working.” Another spot shows Craig playing himself in real life, but dealing with people, like a cab driver, who think he is Bond. That ad, released today, features regular Heineken and feeds into the notion that Craig, appearing in his last Bond movie, “will always be James Bond in the eyes of fans around the world.”
But it’s the Heineken 0.0 ad, released last week, that is creating the most buzz across the pond.
The U.K.’s Daily Mail points out that Heineken’s portrayal of Bond ordering the non-alcoholic beer comes amid revelations about the coming film that make it the “wokest Bond film yet.” The Mail reports that ‘“Fleabag’ creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge had been brought in as a scriptwriter to ensure the blockbuster was appropriate for the #MeToo era.” Quoting an unnamed source, the newspaper states: “The phrase 'Bond girl' was outlawed from the set. The women in this film are all strong, brave and fiercely independent. These women are not helpless girls who jump into bed with Bond—their reactions are very different from what people might think.”
Bond’s responsible drinking portrayed in the Heineken spot comes as the teetotaling trend takes hold with younger, health-conscious generations that are drinking less than their parents and grandparents. Heineken’s choice to include its “0.0” brew in one of its biggest campaigns of the year is just the latest example of how the trend is affecting marketing, underscored by multiple efforts seizing on Dry January. Earlier this month, for example, Molson Coors-owned low alcohol beer Miller64 began plugging ‘Dry-ish January’ with new ads.
Hans Erik Tuijt, Heineken’s director of global sponsorships, notes that the inclusion of Heineken 0.0 in the campaign comes as the buzz-free brew gains distribution momentum. The variety launched in the U.S. in January of 2019. It is now available in some 50 global markets and will soon add about 15 more countries, Tuijt said in an interview. As for the ad, he said: “The joke between double ‘O’ and zero-zero is an obvious one.”
But the spot’s arrival in the middle of January was a fortuitous coincidence. “The film was originally supposed to be released in November and then our commercial would have aired at the beginning of August,” he said. “I’m sure we got more attention because it is Dry January. I want to claim to be a genius but I have to admit it’s not true.”
While Tuijt said he has not seen the film’s final cut, he confirmed that Heineken will once again get some product placement, but it will be regular Heineken, not 0.0.
This is the eighth-straight Bond movie with which Heineken had a marketing deal, dating back to 1997’s “Tomorrow Never Dies.” Heineken's product shot in 2012’s “Skyfall” caused a bit of an uproar, considering the character is so closely linked with martinis, shaken, not stirred.
Tuijt says that Ian Fleming, the novelist who created Bond, in his first book “literally writes that James Bond is having a beer in the pub in Jamaica.” So for “true Bond fans, this is not a surprise.”