Thursday, 28 September 2017

When James Bond went cruising

Over the decades, James Bond has been used to advertise a range of products, among them clothes, shoes and tea, that have had no official connection to the books or films. In 1963, James Bond was used to advertise cruises.

A supplement to Tatler magazine in May 1963 included an advertisement for Union-Castle cruises. The advertisement, ‘No pistol packing for James Bond’, features an illustration of James Bond by a swimming pool on board a cruise ship and in the company of a bikini-clad woman. The accompanying text reveals that they are on the Windsor Castle, a cruise ship on its way to Cape Town, and that M is sending Bond there for rest and recuperation. The woman, called Orchid, is an agent too, as she confesses to Bond that M ‘sent me to keep an eye on you’.
Union-Castle advert in the Tatler, 29 May 1963 (c) Illustrated London News Group
Published after the film version of Dr No was released, the advertisement inevitably contains nods to the film. James Bond resembles Sean Connery, and from the text it’s clear that Bond has consumed ‘vodka martinis at shipboard prices’. The books have not been forgotten either; another activity that Bond has enjoyed is ‘bridge at 1d-a-hundred’, the copywriter presumably being aware of the bridge game in Moonraker

The second advert (‘Holiday with pay-off for James Bond’) was published in the Tatler in October 1963. This time, Bond is holidaying on the Blue Lagoon beach near Mombasa, having travelled on the cruise ship the Kenya Castle. Later, Bond will travel on to Durban via Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam and Beira. Bond’s holiday is again courtesy of M, apparently to thank Bond for his efforts on ‘the Klemanski case’. Bond again has female company, a blonde, bikini-clad woman (not Orchid, it seems). ‘James, promise me you haven’t brought any weapons on this holiday,’ she asks. ‘Only for fishing…,’ he replies as he suggestively clasps a spear-gun.
Union-Castle advert in the Tatler, 16 October 1963 (c) Illustrated London News Group
Again, Bond resembles Sean Connery, and while the advertisement doesn’t include other obvious references to Dr No or From Russia With Love, which had been released in the same month, the scene curiously prefigures the beach scene in Thunderball (1965), in which Bond is with female company (in that case Domino) and armed with a spear-gun.

The Union-Castle advertisements were published at a time when exotic travel was becoming more affordable and cruising was gaining in popularity; the film Carry On Cruising, which poked gentle fun at the industry and its passengers, was released in 1962.

The advertisements also remind us of the part that the novels played in generating James Bond’s advertising power. Over time, the films would come to dominate, and the tropes or memes presented in advertising featuring Bond would derive largely, and probably exclusively, from the films only (though of course these contain memes that can be traced back to the books). In 1963, however, the books were still influential.

After all, the cruise advertisements were published, as they acknowledged, ‘with a bow to Ian Fleming, author of the excellent ‘James Bond’ books, published by Jonathan Cape: and to Eon Productions, whose film ‘Dr No’ is the first of a series based on these books’.

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