Sunday, 11 September 2016

Jaguar evokes James Bond in its advertising

Jaguar, the car manufacturer, is no stranger to the world of James Bond. Last year in Spectre, we saw Oberhauser's goon, Mr Hinx, put Jaguar's concept car, the C-X75, through its paces on the streets of Rome. And in Die Another Day (2001), Zao battles Bond and the ice in a Jaguar XKR. We must wait until the next Bond film (whenever that will be) to find out whether Jaguar will make another appearance, but in the meantime, the spirit of Bond lives on in Jaguar's advertising.

The Art of Performance campaign, which promotes the Jaguar XE, is currently doing the rounds on British television (see the advert on my Licence to Cook Facebook page). In the advert, the car speeds (in controlled conditions) through the streets of central London. We see close-ups of the car before it zooms through a tunnel and comes out on to Westminster Bridge in view of the London Eye and Queen Elizabeth Tower.

The locations naturally evoke the final part of Spectre, particularly the tunnel in which M's car is rammed and Bond kidnapped, and the denouement on Westminster Bridge (an association helped by the Bondian music that accompanies the advert). To some extent, the advert also recalls the beginning of the pre-title sequence of Quantum of Solace, which, with its seductive glimpses of Bond's Aston Martin before the shooting starts, could almost be a car advert itself.

Another of Jaguar's campaigns also has distinct Bond-like qualities. The 2014 Art of Villainy commercial showcased the Jaguar F-type coupé and starred Tom Hiddleston, who, in the advert, reveals the essential characteristics of a villain (style, razor-sharp wit, attention to detail, and the means to stay one step ahead, among others) before tearing through the streets of London. (For this villainous act, the advert was banned by the UK's Advertising Standards Authority, who judged that it promoted dangerous driving). The advert made the car look good, of course, but could also be viewed as Hiddleston's audition for a Bond villain (if not Bond himself).


There's more Bond-like villainy in a 2014 advert starring Nicolas Hoult. If Tom Hiddleston is Blofeld, Nicolas Hoult is Q gone bad. In the commercial for the Jaguar XE, we see Hoult descend into his innovation lab (passing through a shark-infested pool) and explain, in what could be the antithesis of a typical Q briefing, what every mastermind needs in terms of automative technology to help them achieve world domination.

All three adverts are redolent of the James Bond films, and use memes closely associated with Bond, such as the urbane, sophisticated villain, iconic landscapes, the Q-like character, and buttons and switches inside the car that bring to mind gadgets and ejector seats. The adverts were not made with reference to any specific Bond product or film, but nevertheless depend on them. Even after half a century, James Bond continues to have significant traction in the world of advertising.

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