Sunday, 22 June 2014

David Beckham in Sky Sports' James Bond-inspired advert

I caught David Beckham's latest advertisement for Sky Sports the other day. As I watched it, I thought that it had a certain Bondian quality, particularly the laboratory setting, the futuristic technology, and Beckham's cool style. I wasn't the only one. A headline on the Daily Mail website ran, “Sky Sports 5 to launch as new channel dedicated to European football ahead of new season... and David Beckham will appear in new 'James Bond-style' advert.” The Digital Spy website featured images of the advert with the caption, “David Beckham in James Bond-style Sky Sports advert.” What's so Bondian about Sky's advert?

The advert begins with a view of the Sky Sports research centre, a modernist construction set into a remote hillside that reminded me of Piz Gloria, Blofeld's mountain-top base in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Inside the research centre, work spaces filled with gadgets, and lab-coated researchers testing their inventions (with amusing results) must allude to Q's laboratory, especially its appearances in The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, Octopussy or GoldenEye, where viewers see bespectacled boffins test prototype gadgets and deal with malfunctioning technology, leading to the inevitable quip from James Bond (“Having problems keeping it up, Q?”).

The design of the research centre, though, is pure Bond-villain's lair from Ken Adam's drawing board. The open space, the unconventional structural curves and angles, the viewing room, and the elevated walkways could be taken from the early drafts of the Liparus, Stromberg's supertanker in The Spy Who Loved Me. And with the research centre viewed more as villain's base than Q's laboratory, the researchers, wearing identical blue lab coats (high-collared with a touch of the Bond villain's Nehru suit), recall the uniformed workers or private army of Blofeld, Stromberg, or Drax.

David Beckham, I think, exudes Bondian style (as he did during the London Olympics opening ceremony), although the memes used to introduce him are again more closely associated with Bond villains than James Bond. When we first see Beckham, his identity isn't immediately revealed to us, as he's sitting on a chair with his back to the camera. Then he rotates his chair. Beckham remains silent, but I wouldn't have been surprised to hear him say, “Ah, Mr Bond, I've been expecting you,” and clutch a white cat.

Sky Sports' latest advert appears to have taken the James Bond films as its main inspiration. It demonstrates the importance of the Bond films in popular culture, of course, but highlights that traits or memes associated with Bond villains and Q are just as culturally prominent as those associated with James Bond.


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