With the release of a new Bond film on the horizon, I kept thinking about how the Bond brand represents itself outside of the films and if that strategy is (still) a good one. As you probably all know, the James Bond 'brand' is the epitome of luxury: watches, pens, suitcases, cigar cutters, clothing lines... They all are available, but they're also quite expensive. For a 23 year old student like myself, many of these articles aren't affordable. As I am a young fan growing up in a world dominated by Star Wars, Harry Potter and Avengers, I can only look at what they have to offer and marvel: I want that too for Bond. I want to be able to buy Bond items other than films and books that are in my price range.
As an experiment, let's hit up the 007 Store
, and see what we can find.
As one would expect, the clothing ranges from the luxury brands are heavily promoted. N.Peal
has a new line of replica sweaters and knitwear from various Bond movies. Their most expensive item, the GF jacket, is £795; their cheapest, a GF tie and a SF scarf, both £95. Orlebar Brown
also has a clothing line. Their most expensive items (the SP, LALD and GF sweaters; the DN bathrobe) are £295, their cheapest item (TB swim shorts) £195. Not really for me. But the Store also sells polos and t-shirts
, you say? Let's see. Polos are £30, while t-shirts are available in two categories: £25 or £20. A quick check tells me officially licensed Star Wars shirts are on average £20, Marvel features t-shirts in between £15-20, and Harry Potter fans can get official t-shirts for £12-15 pounds. While not terribly bad, Bond is the most expensive of the four.
Bags, wallets, electrics, accessories
Want to feature 007 on your school bag, backpack, tote bag or laptop bag? Tough luck. Or unless you'd like to purchase a Moneypenny Leather Bag
by Globe Trotter
for £1,445 or £1,190. The bag is more expensive than whatever you'd put in it! And the design is of course really recognisable as Bond, right? No, of course not. But don't fret, there's also a tote bag
with a picture from DN on it. The price? £37.95, that's a bit.. much, I'd say. There's a laptop bag
for £34.99, which I'd call a fair price for such a bag. It has a Spectre logo on it. If you squint, you can see it. Not really a Bond bag, IMO. There used to be some affordable tech things
in the shop (speakers, power banks), but now there's only 2: a bluetooth speaker (£44.95) and a very weird looking power bank (£59.95). These look top-notch, high-quality. But it seems that these replace some cheaper items (widely available products with a 007 logo slapped on it), in an effort to upgrade the 'luxury'. Why can't we have both? At the time of writing, the S.T. Dupont
pen range isn't available anymore through the site. Is there actually a Bond fan who bought a golden pen that cost them over £1,000? For which market are these pens? Not for Bond fans. The notebooks by Moleskine
are between £21.98 and £32.98 I know they're very nice, but that's way more than I'm willing to pay for a notebook.
This is the one category I can understand the prices and the market: good replicas are expensive. While the Bond replicas are way more expensive than, say, the Harry Potter ones (Bond between £900 and £60, Potter between £50 and £395), those are not meant to be cheap or mass produced. Perfectly fine by me. Same with the Big Chief
figures: other films have the same ranges of really high-end figures. Only difference is that other brands typically have other, cheaper figures for people who can't afford the high-end ones. Bond doesn't have those.
Again, I'm a bit baffled when I look at the site. I wanted to compliment them for the range of posters
, which used to be top-notch. Looking now, I see a load of films don't have a poster for sale anymore. There are £20 art prints, which is fine by me, and prints that are exclusive, around £225. No problem with that, art prints are always around that price. But where are the different movie posters? Just a 'normal' format of each film's poster would not be strange. Luckily, they are all available as postcards
, which cost £0.70. This is the one instance I'd like something more expensive: a neat tin, featuring postcards from all films? Why not?!
Toys, Funko Pops
And now we get to what some consider the worst thing ever happen to Bond since Stepbrothergate: Funko Pops
. Love 'em or hate 'em, they are exactly what I've been asking for: affordable merch. I collected Funko Pops before they came with a 007 range, so I'm actually glad Danjaq jumped on board. Though I can understand people not liking them. I hoped it would be a step in the right direction. Corgi
came with some new Bond car models and even Little Nellie, so I have to applaud them for that. But we all know which mould they will dust off for NTTD... Yes, time for them to produce another DB5!
Odds and Ends
Which brings me to my final point: with Corgi delivering more effort and Funko getting the Bond licence, I had hoped the Bond brand was headed in a new direction. More items that are available for everyone. The kids, the casual moviegoers, the Bond fans, the super rich people who buy Globe Trotter and don't see that it's Bond-branded, everyone. But then we get things like a ridiculously expensive and exclusive backgammon set, new Omega watches left and right, and no real products for a movie that's out in 5 months. And then that hope I had, goes away quickly.
And with all this in mind, comes the central question. Should Bond stay a luxurious brand (almost) none of us fans can afford, because 'Bond is a man of wealth and taste', or should Bond try to get more into the mainstream with their merchandising?
Should they try and find new groups that'll buy products, or should they stay focused on associating themselves with exclusive brands? You know my answer, now I'd like to know yours.
(Mods, I've tried to look for a general merchandise discussion topic, but couldn't find one. If you feel this topic should not exist because it has been discussed elsewhere, feel free to close this)