The highly anticipated Bond…James Bond…film, "Casino Royale," opens this week in theaters around the world and Bond lovers will play close attention to actor Daniel Craig, the new 007—what he’s wearing, who’s on his arm and certainly, what he drives.

When it comes to Bond’s vehicles in "Casino Royale," Ford takes center stage.

The movie features the new Aston Martin DBS as well as the refreshed Ford Mondeo. "Casino Royale" continues Ford’s longstanding relationship with the Bond franchise that stretches back over five decades and 17 films.

"It’s both deeply gratifying and tremendously exciting to watch the partnership between Ford and James Bond continue to grow," said Myles Romero, director, Ford Global Brand Entertainment. "Just as every actor who’s played James Bond has brought his distinctive sensibilities to the role, the new models that ’co-star’ in this film are simultaneously unique and immediately recognizable as members of the Ford family."

James Bond is typically associated with super sporty vehicles outfitted with technically advanced gadgetry – something the average person might never get the chance to drive. But this film takes on a slightly more prosaic approach. The cars are still sporty, but they’re much like the ones you’d see at your area dealership. You get a sense of that in the first few minutes of the film when Bond gets into a Ford Mondeo that transports him to a hotel in the Bahamas.

When filmmakers approached Ford, Mondeo’s design was just a sketch on the drawing board. The result was a misty blue five-door Mondeo equipped with a sports body kit that hinted at what the new model would look like in ’07. It took crews several weeks to build the vehicle by hand. It is basically a body shell, without amenities like air conditioning, and an engine just big enough to go 30 mph.

Mondeo’s presence in "Casino Royale" is big news for Ford of Europe and is one of its largest product placements.

“It’s amazing the amount of interest that is generated around this vehicle. It was a closed set but paparazzi were hiding everywhere," Romero said.

The reveal of the new Mondeo in the film is part of Ford’s European marketing platform called “Ford Feel the Difference,” which seeks to make an emotional connection with customers.

"In very broad terms, the association with ’Casino Royale’ delivers perfectly on the platform theme as it will enable us to build more style in our brand," said Lyn West, Brand Communication Strategies manager, Ford of Europe. "The movie is about adventure, glamour, technology and humour — thereby supporting our marketing message of ’style with substance.’ "

“We’re delighted to be part of this exciting new Bond project," said Stephen Odell, Ford of Europe vice president, Marketing Sales and Service. "On the big screen, the new Mondeo looks impressive and eye-catching, and we’re convinced this appearance, although brief, will stimulate early customer interest in the new model"

Full details of the new Mondeo will remain under wraps until the car is officially launched early in 2007. It will be sold in 21 countries abroad.

In true Bond style, 007’s mode of transportation for most of the movie is an Aston Martin. The luxury automaker is showcasing its newest product, the Aston Martin DBS, a car that captures the elegance of a DB9 and the power of a DBR9 race car.

It’s a role coveted by other automakers. According to Al Uzielli, senior advisor, Ford Global Brand Entertainment, Toyota offered the Broccoli family, owners of the Bond franchise, a multi-million dollar deal to put Bond behind the wheel of Lexus’ supercar.

"The beauty of Aston Martin is that it’s such a natural fit for the character," said Uzielli, grandson of Henry Ford II. There’s also a long-standing family relationship since Henry Ford II brokered the deal with Albert ’Cubby’ Broccoli to showcase the ’64½ Ford Mustang convertible in the Goldfinger film.

From the brand of the liquor Bond drinks to the cars he drives, filmmakers pay close attention to detail, making sure every element is consistent with the setting and is sensible for the film.

"We’re all in a business where we have to be extremely careful in where we take our brands. It just wouldn’t seem right to have the consummate British agent drive a Japanese car. Regardless of what the money was, in the long run, it’s ’where does that take your brand?’" Uzielli said.

The Jaguar XJ Sport and XJR and Land Rover Range Rover Sport, also take part in the action — driven by both Bond and villains in high-speed chase scenes. Bob Witter, manager, Ford Global Brand Entertainment, says Ford has greater room to negotiate because of the wide range of vehicles it can offer through its many brands.

Romero says product integration gains brand exposure in a way traditional marketing cannot. "Die Another Day," he says, generated more than a billion positive impressions for the company worldwide.

"If you integrate products into a film that, first of all, make sense with the script and, secondly, work well with the creative, you successfully get your marketing message across. I think movie-goers will find that Ford has a lot to offer," he said.

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