I know that many more important things are happening.
But I have to say, I’m shaken and stirred by the news that James Bond will be drinking a Heineken in the next film. Product placement has some limits, and I thought we’d agreed where they were — several yards before you hit the iconic preferences of iconic characters. I don’t care what Bond drives. I don’t care who tailors his suits or does his hair or what kind of processor powers his latest gadgetry.
But I draw the line at the drinks.
It’s not that I have anything against beer. Quite to the contrary. I stand with the potentially apocryphal Ben Franklin adage that “Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy.” I even like Heinekens. They taste reassuringly like chilled spittle.
If they sent me a free case, I would drink it enthusiastically, and I would have even nicer things to say about them afterwards, although those things might be erratically spelled.
But James Bond and I are two very different people.
James Bond drinks martinis. Shaken, not stirred.
I didn’t even know you were supposed to shake or stir them in the first place. The extent of my familiarity with mixed drinks is to point at the one on the menu with the funniest name and express the hope that someone will stick an umbrella in it before handing it to me.
But I don’t mind that James has better tastes. So what if he walks and talks like a one percenter? He earned it, after what he did to all those men with laser sharks. He has the right to drink whatever he likes.
Watching him drink something that I might order on special just feels wrong. He’s an iconic character in a fantasy world, not the guy at the bar elbowing you to get to the rail drinks. And how can you customize a beer order? No one’s going to stir a beer for you. Shake one, and it explodes everywhere. And “Chilled, not tepid,” doesn’t have the same ring to it.
If the product placers are allowed to have their way with him, who knows where they’ll go next?
Next, the Dude will eschew White Russians for vodka tonics. Carrie et al. will stop having Cosmos and start drinking Heinekens. Indiana Jones will ditch the fedora for a baseball cap.
Snoop Dogg will wax lyrical about the benefits of electronic cigarettes. Lady Macbeth will start using Purell. Frosty the Snowman will ditch the corncob pipe for Marlboros. Forrest Gump will go around telling people that life is like a box of Chees-Its. Sauron will get Lasik. Hannibal Lecter will start extolling ChickFilA (“Tastes like people!”).
Iconic characters only remain iconic so long as they retain their larger-than-life attributes. That keeps them recognizable. The accessories are as legendary as the characters themselves. Take away his martini, and James Bond is just Jason Bourne with better recollection, more constrictive apparel and a longer history of bad relationship choices.
Honestly, what does Heineken think it’s accomplishing here? Before, they were That Beer In Green Bottles That Tastes Pretty Okay. Now, they’re That Horrid Company That Got Between James Bond and His Martini. This might actually hurt them. If you want to sell the public on someone, don’t introduce her as a homewrecker. It’s like introducing a new character, Jeffy The Habitat Destroying Oil Rig Sponge-Killer, into the world of SpongeBob SquarePants and expecting him to win the public’s heart.
And it’s just wrong.
Place that product somewhere else! Please.