Ad Of The Week: Heineken

Daniel Craig vs James Bond



It’s quite a coup to get an A-List actor in your ad. But it’s one thing to secure them, quite another to use them well. Will the instant recognition for the celebrity build distinctiveness for your brand – or distract from it? And how do you get the right balance between the person and the product?

For Heineken and its association with the James Bond franchise, these questions were even more complex. Bond itself is a global brand, with its own sets of distinctive assets and associations – from John Barry’s legendary theme tune to the famous (or notorious) “Bond girls”.

Heineken began its association with Bond in 1997, but it wasn’t until 15 years later than it found itself in the tricky position of having to replace one of those instantly recognisable assets – 007’s drink of choice, the martini. Switching to a chilled lager was in keeping with the new mode of realism brought in by actor Daniel Craig, whose version of Bond was grittier and more down-to-earth than his predecessors. 

It’s only been in the last two films that Bond has actually been seen drinking lager onscreen, but the transition’s been smooth enough that Heineken can have some fun with Craig and his character in their ads promoting No Time To Die, Craig’s latest and final Bond movie. The ad shows Daniel Craig (the actor) having to live up to people’s expectations of James Bond (the character) with comical results. At least they both enjoy the same cold beer.

To Heineken and Bond’s credit the ad left audiences stirred, not shaken, with a terrific 5.6-Star rating in the UK. (In the US, where Bond is well-known but not quite so big a deal, it scored a very good 4.1-Stars). It also had a very strong Spike score, driven by excellent Fluency for Heineken – showing that the beer brand only benefits from the association with Bond.

So to answer the questions we asked up top. Does Daniel Craig’s appearance work to build distinctiveness for Heineken? Yes – the association with Bond has done what the brand hoped it would do. And does the ad get the balance right between person and product? Again yes – the Heineken branding is discreet for most of the ad (just a glimpse at the start) but absolutely pivotal to the conclusion. It’s a great way to use brand and product without crowding out the parts people actually want to see – Bond (and Craig) doing their thing..