After "Quantum of Solace" (too dark) and "Casino Royale" (too dark), I had sworn off Bond. No mas. But hearing the gushing review on NPR changed my mind so Ruben and I checked out Bond #23 last night. Very impressive. Not because the movie was excellent, but that the Bond stewards (stepsiblings Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson) got it right this time after a couple of expensive flubs. Even with the problem of MGM declaring bankruptcy in 2010; the James Bond franchise is one more global cultural homerun from the Brits! The movie is even selling well in Russia. Here in the States, "Skyfall" enjoyed the biggest opening week-end of all the Bond flicks, raking in a cool $87.8 million. Keeping a brand fresh may even be more challenging that launching a new brand, so let’s take a look at the factors at play. (Note, no spoilers, here I promise!)
What’s the same: Of course the basic structure is the same because the audience wants the same James Bond Experience. You’ll see M, Miss Moneypenny, Q, amazing stunts, gorgeous cinematography and a somewhat believable national threat. All the players have updated, culturally-appropriate appearances. Beautiful women (and their incredible dresses) still bedazzle us. The Aston Martin got coverage. There’s still a bad guy.
Bond still introduces himself with "Bond…..Jame Bond". Help people remember your own name when you meet them.
He still wears a tuxedo! Dresssing well counts! It’s an emotional fact and "Emotions play a far greater role in determining business outcomes across industries than many executives grasp" according to Gallup research.
1. Good villains are more difficult to develop these days. This one is a product of the the same espionage system; he doesn’t represent another country. This reflects the current spy problem, if you will, with modern terrorists not being aligned with a specific national policy.
The villain (indirectly) asks if we create our own enemies, as some people have suggested that American success created the atmosphere supporting the terrorists involved in 9/11. Certainly success makes a good target. In any case, one does accept that dangerous forces are more difficult to identify.
Basic messages don’t change: buy this, I love you, be careful, aim high. What makes messages stick is careful attention to detail and not making assumptions.
2. The issue of aging and relevance is directly addressed. Actor Judi Dench is in her upper 70’s and…well, without giving it away, I’ll say that the age factor is out there.
The movie deals with a not-too-exciting-but-terribly-important issue in a compelling way.
3. The need for human experience in the face of technology is asked. Does the world still need a James Bond? The film answers the question, and it’s nice to see the film have the guts to be open about it.
The takeaway: Staying successful may be more challenging than achieving intial success. Staying relevant, keeping up-to-date (at any age) is possible, but it’s not the default setting.
Communication intelligence is your friend in keeping you, your company or brand on top. It takes careful listening to your audience, intentional expression of your message and TOTAL engagement with what you’re doing.
Do tell, what did you think of the new Bond movie?