Tuesday, March 24, 2009

James Bond, A Case of New Product Development

The name is Bond, JAMES BOND

If there is one character that has been able to sustain interest among its loyal followers is the Brit Spy - James Bond.

No other character or even superhero has been able to retain its followers or add new ones as 007 has done.

The last two editions are akin to what we can say a sort of new product or at least new packaging. Before I move on, let me try to enlist as to what, I believe, a James Bond movie stands for. Times since memorial, Mr. Bond and his adventures have entertained audience with world politics (read Cold War), scientific gadgets, women and, most importantly, the Bond himself. Bond is a sophisticated spy. A Gentleman. Dressed like a gentry, in tuxedos. He would deal even with his foes with finesse.

Am I suggesting that Daniel Craig is not all that in the last two editions (Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace)? No, on the contrary DC is loved by more women now, I guess.

But then something has changed. I have watched only Casino Royale and I can say that the experience is nowhere similar to the earlier editions. Even Pierce Brosnan had a retro touch.

So what changed for Bond?

Over the years, action movies have changed. Jason Bourne, Neo, Ethan Hunt, Bob Lee...they have redefined the genre of action. So, primary concern for the makers could be whether the old Bond would be relevant in the new era. Most of Bond's assignments were in the backdrop of the Cold War. Today, most of the World Politics is focused on Middle East. Must say, Clooney seems to be more interested in the Gulf than any other actor is.

If you look at either of the two latest Bond merchandize, you realize that Bond operates very similar to the new-age action heroes. He is not the spy we knew. While his packaging is contemporary, there is hardly any differentiation. Moreover, the Bond stamp is missing.

I have heard that Quantum of Solace did not do well. Am not sure, if it is too early to say, whether the forthcoming issues will connect with audience well.

Under these circumstances, the objectives for owners of brand merchandise have two objectives:

1. Retain its loyal customer base who would have felt let down.
2. Acquire new fans as the demographics have changed. The makers would definitely be in quandary as to whether old Bond in old packaging would connect with the changing demographics and take on the challenge from existing choices of action movies.

It would be a worthwhile exercise to revisit what makes/made James Bond click. The challenge for 007 is to retain the basic elements while still appearing fresh.

If you look Jason Bourne, Neo, Ethan Hunt, Bob Lee and DC-Bond, you will find that all of them operate very much alike, cold and devoid of emotions. James was never like that. James was a spy with color, humor and then action. If James continues to do things as he has always been doing, it will not be long before he will be lost in the realms of history.

Mr. Bond, your key to success is - DIFFERENTIATION. I am not sure if I am reading too much into it or if the problem is real.

Or maybe my marketing grey cells working overtime.

Here's a piece I liked http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/filmblog/2008/nov/04/james-bond-daniel-craig-quantum-of-solace.
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