I was watching the latest installment of the James Bond / 007 in the theatre when I noticed something quite amazing: there were people of all demographics in the theatre with me. My fellow young father friend and I were out on a rare night out away from our babies and wives, and the group beside of us was a group of senior ladies on a night out on the town. We literally shared nothing in common with them exception of an interest in the character we were there to see.
James Bond / 007 is a well known character, no doubt. But is he a brand?
The aggregate total of preconceptions the customers and potential customers have towards an individual or organization and it’s offerings based on prior experience and media.
How does that apply to James Bond / 007?
- The aggregate total: There are definitely many people who have feelings about James Bond.
- of preconceptions: People have preconceptions / expectations of a 007 movie: that opening scene, a car chase, action, espionage based storyline, a thin love story with a beautiful woman, a a dastardly evil villain.
- the customers and potential customers have: The theatre goers and home video purchasers are customers.
- towards a individual or organization and it’s offerings: Yes, there is an organization involved. The copyright of James Bond is complexly split between a few companies, but it is owned by Danjaq LLC and the movies are made for / distributed by Columbia and Sony, depending on what country.
- based on prior experience and media: People have plenty of experience with James Bond / 007, with movies counting in the 20s going back to 1962.
James Bond / 007 is a brand. By our definition, Mr. Bond goes five for five.
Back to the theatre, and the people from all walks of life who joined with me to see the latest 007 movie. We didn’t know much about the details of that particular movie, but we all knew what we could expect after James Bond made his famous steps and turned and shot towards that famous barrel of the gun we were looking through. This is because past experiences with the James Bond brand helped us knew what to expect from a movie we have not seen yet. And we all paid good money for the experience we expected, so clearly it was a brand we connected with and some brand equity.
The brand-ification of entertainment is why we get less original movies and television shows and instead see twenty plus James Bond, six or more superhero movies a year, and endless reboots of vintage properties. These entertainment properties have value, they have brand equity. People know what to expect when they purchase their movie ticket, and that certainty is a powerful driver. Original content doesn’t have a brand: people have no idea what to expect, and that is a risk. And a risk of a movie we don’t connect with was enough to drive me and my buddy into the theatre playing a comfortable James Bond movie.
But the James Bond brand can also be a double edge sword. People have expectations and it will be a bad experience if those expectations are not met. The James Bond movies we collectively do not like are the ones that do not meet our expectations. Meeting and exceeding expectations on a regular basis is challenging. And those expectations of the audience make it hard to innovate, and an opportunity for movies like the Bourne series.
That being said, I would prefer to be the owner of the copyright of James Bond and keep those movies rolling and the cheques coming in. It is a powerful brand with a broad audience.