When it comes to men of the world there is none more worldly than James Bond.
Fitting then that Heineken has, for the first time in its 15-year partnership with the Bond franchise, brought Bond himself into its “Open Your World” campaign, in support of the Dutch beer brand’s sponsorship of the upcoming 007 film, Skyfall. The follow-up to successful ads “The Entrance” and “The Date”, which feature legendary guys in extraordinary situations, this third installment, “Crack the Case”, revolves around a case of mistaken identity.
In the commercial, a well-dressed man accidentally bumps into Bond on a wintry train platform. An unfortunate choice in headwear makes him easily mistaken for the double-0 agent, and before you know it he’s being pursued by some serious baddies. Once on the train, he’s faced with a series of obstacles that are straight out of the Bond canon. He first catches a few airborne brews (this is a Heineken ad, after all) before bumping into a gambler at the craps table, thereby turning his dice into winners. He then escapes through a cloakroom only to stumble into a train car of evildoers, destroying their house of cards. A quick flick of the decks and our Heineken man quite improbably recreates the Kremlin before disappearing into a train car full of ice sculptures. Again narrowly averting capture, he emerges into the train’s party car where he once again comes face-to-face with James (Daniel Craig) and Skyfall’s Bond girl Severine (played by Bérénice Marlohe), who gives him a sly glance of approval before handing him some beers. With trouble on its way, James takes leave of the whole situation, jumping from the train as it passes over a viaduct, floating to safety with a Union Jack parachute. Naturally.
It’s a lively ad that is an amusing homage to the Bond franchise. Indeed, one of the best nods to 007 fans has to be the cameo by actor Joseph Wiseman, posthumously reprising his role as Dr. No. Still, it retains the spirit of Heineken’s Open Your World work, feeling very much in stride with the brand’s previous efforts.
“It’s not a film about James Bond, it’s about this man of the world in action,” says Cyril Charzat, Senior Director, Global Heineken Brand. “Two years ago we shifted our communications from being about ourselves to trying to show our man of the world in situations that can be an inspiration–elevating the image of the drinker. Each time we tried to take a real human truth, a consumer insight we believe is talking to our guys in their daily life. Here’s it’s the idea that each guy might think about a time where he has to save the day like a legend, which is a very James Bond situation, which we liked.”
Eric Quennoy, executive creative director at agency Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam, says the idea itself was very much a meeting of the minds. “It’s man of the world meets Bond, and that got us exited. They share a lot of similar things–they’re well traveled, comfortable in any situation, they’ve got charm and wit in spades. The only difference is, let’s face it, James Bond is an assassin. Maybe if there’s one way to separate them it’s that our man is a lover not a fighter,” he says. “We thought it would be interesting to put our man of the world in a situation where he has to react like a double-0 spy.”
Wieden was given unique insight into that spy world when crafting the campaign. EON Productions, the company that produced the Bond films, invited Quennoy and co-ECD Mark Bernath to Pinewood Studios and gave them access to the Skyfall script. So, is that where the idea to set the whole scene on a train came from? Quennoy won’t say–NDAs and all–but he does admit rather coyly that it was clear a train would be a “great vehicle” to show all these different situations in which Heineken’s man of the world could show off his ingenuity.
This idea of acting resourcefully in the face of danger is continued in the digital element of the campaign. When viewed online, the ad leads directly to an interactive experience that allows users to crack the code to James Bond’s case, which Severine slyly slips to the Heineken man at the end of the commercial. “We wanted to have a seamless journey from the film to the digital engagement,” says Charzat.
In truth, the digital element is not as robust as previous efforts, particularly the Serenade app and Serenade Live that supported “The Date.” For beer-loving dudes, “Crack the Case”’s promise of aiding the smoldering Severine aboard a Siberian train might be appealing, but the interaction is light, if very well integrated with the overall story. A more interesting prospect will come closer to Skyfall’s October release, when local activations in over a dozen markets will allow people to demonstrate their resourcefulness by undergoing a similar gauntlet of challenges in person. Activations will coincide with local film release dates.
The “Crack the Case” TV ad is being launched simultaneously in 50 markets, and globally online, with what Charzat says is a $50 million media investment, marking a shift in how the brand rolls out its marketing, and taking advantage of the global appeal of the Bond franchise. “In the past, it was spread throughout the year and we wouldn’t have this kind of interaction from all the countries around the world talking about the campaign at the same time and engaging with these events,” he says. “I think this is a huge opportunity for us to create something that’s meaningful in relation to the Open Your World story.”