Culture has a lot to teach us about brands and can give us a glimpse into what consumers are looking for. As I wait for my fresh copy of Casino Royale to arrive in the mail, I rhetorically wonder… why would Hollywood reinvent a cultural icon like James Bond? The answer to me is simple: relevance.
In an age dominated by the likes of Jack Bauer (of TV’s “24″), heroes are under more and more pressure to be “real.” The “goody two shoes” heros of days gone by aren’t resonating with the year 2007. Audiences expect a hero to have real problems. They don’t expect their heroes to be perfect, and more importantly, they don’t want them to be.
Casino Royale provides a much needed kick start to the James Bond brand. It’s generally grittier, edgier, and shows Bond to be (above all other things) human. He makes mistakes. He gets hurt (poisoned, shot, bleeds, and nearly dies). The high sheen that actors (such as Pierce Brosnan) have provided to the Bond role in the past appears to be gone. Here to stay is the new Daniel Craig version. He’s out of control. Psychologically unstable. And unmistakably real.
For me, I take this James Bond lesson and apply it to other issues we encounter. Whether we’re launching a new consumer product, or introducing a political candidate, today’s customer isn’t interested in make believe. They want something that feels unmistakably real.
BONUS QUESTION: As we watch the James Bond brand go through the “real filter” it makes me wonder, who’s next? What Hollywood franchise is most due for an update, and why?