If You Believe Bond Drinks Heineken, I Have a Bridge to Sell You
I have it on good authority that martinis are James Bond's drink of choice. In something like 258 different films and Ian Fleming novels, he either orders a martini or accepts one when it is proffered. He is very clear about this. Martinis are his drink.
Beverages in which James Bond has been depicted in the act of drinking include martinis and, maybe once or twice, water. Beverages in which he has not been depicted in the act of drinking include cranberry juice, Gatorade, Bloody Marys, skim milk, Red Bull, Cosmopolitans, Slurpies, Slushies, white wine spritzers and pretty much anything else that can physically be cascaded down one's gullet.
In conclusion: James Bond likes martinis. He likes them prepared a certain way. Martinis are as much a James Bond mainstay as well-tailored dinner jackets and groanily suggestive banter. He drinks martinis, foils baddies and beds babes. That is what he does. That is what he has always done.
I bring this up in light of Heineken's persistent-to-the-point-of-mania attempts to bind its brand to the Bond franchise, which will (reportedly) culminate with great, character-defiling glory when 007 sips a Heineken in Skyfall, the franchise's 23rd installment. I bring this up because no matter how hard it tries and how many dollars it spends to this end, Heineken will never establish itself as The Beverage Of Bond, or of other would-be dashing global superspies. It just won't, because readers and viewers have been conditioned for half a century to believe in the suaveness-affirming bona fides of a shaken martini. Basically, this is the marketing equivalent of banging one's head against titanium-reinforced cinder blocks.
The video/game/whatever that Heineken has devised as part of its latest Bond-bait campaign is exactly what you'd expect. It looks fantastic, with action sequences that trump most anything you'll see on the average network detective show. It delivers the now-expected interactivity, allowing users to plug themselves into the action via a smooth photo-upload interface dealie. And it contains several knowing nods to the Bond canon, among them the SPECTRE logo and a digitally facilitated appearance by Dr. No.
Still, what's the point? Yes, we live in the "brand experience" era, in which brands must offer access to lavish virtual playgrounds while simultaneously minding product quality, fending off the competition and monitoring our delusional whining on 18 different social-media platforms. At the same time, the Heineken/Bond adventure is lazy, setting itself aboard yet another casino-and-caviar bullet train and trotting out Bond girl Severine as its hostess. (Separately, how about we name the next Bond girl "Jill" or "Nancy," or at least something that doesn't sound like an industrial sealant?)
Also, either the "assignment" was devised with grade-school operatives in mind or I'm playing it wrong, because its successful completion surely requires more than clicking on two half-hidden briefcases and calling it an afternoon. On the plus side, after I finished/won, I was pelted with a series of punny, Bond-caliber compliments ("you put the 'crack' back into 'case-cracking'") and told by the lovely Severine that she hopes our paths cross again. What can I say? Lithe Eurobabes find the virtual me as irresistible as they do affordable lip balm.
I understand that we live in an era in which brands can sometimes be whoever and whatever they want to be if they repeat it often enough. But asking us to buy that James Bond is a Heineken kinda fellow is too much of a leap, no matter how much the guys and gals in marketing might wish otherwise. Brands that lack self-awareness bum me out, man.