Sunday, 4 January 2015

James Bond in business

In Oxford near where I work I noticed a commercial van bearing the legend, 'Shaken and Stirred'. A quick check on Google revealed that the van belonged to a mobile bar and cocktails company specialising in providing fully staffed and stocked cocktail bars for functions and events. Shaken and Stirred even has on its staff a Daniel-Craig-as-James-Bond lookalike who is available to don the dinner suit and arrive at events in style in an Aston Martin.

It seems inevitable that a cocktails company would look to the world of James Bond, so synonymous is it with vodka martinis (famously prepared in a particular way) and sophisticated living, for a memorable business name. But it is not the only company to have been inspired by James Bond. A trawl through the website of Companies House – the government agency with which all limited companies in the UK are registered – shows that a wide range of companies have drawn on James Bond for their names.

Casino Royale has naturally been chosen as the name of casinos. Less obviously, residents of Billingshurst in West Sussex could have their leather shoes repaired at Live and Let Dye (company now dissolved), and there was a Live and Let Dry (a dry cleaners, perhaps – the nature of its business, currently dormant, was not disclosed) in Thundersley, Essex. Moonraker is a relatively popular name for a company – almost fifty companies so named are registered – although as the word has various connotations (for example being the uppermost sail of a ship), the Bond novel or film did not necessarily provide the inspiration in all, or indeed most, cases.

Ian Fleming's fifth novel and the second Bond film, From Russia With Love, is alluded to in the name of a retail services company based in London – From London With Love. A radio broadcaster based in Bristol – From Bristol With Love – appears to have been similarly inspired. As I've argued in a previous post, the title is highly adaptable, and has become a popular idiom in its own right. It is therefore unclear whether company directors were thinking of the book or film when deciding on a name, or that they simply settled on a memorable phrase without reference to Bond.

Goldfinger is almost as popular as Moonraker as a company name, with over thirty such-named companies registered. Some of these are, appropriately enough, jewellers, but a Thai massage business, investment companies, an engineering company, and a wedding organising business, among others, are also listed. However, as with Moonraker, the names may not have been inspired by the world of James Bond, especially given that in this case Goldfinger is a genuine personal name.

The name For Your Eyes Only has been taken by businesses of a rather more adult nature, for example a chain of 'boudoir' photography studios, which specialises in erotic and romantic photography, and a table dancing club. Away from adult entertainment, a now dormant company of the same name supplied sunglasses in Barnsley, and there are in addition companies which have used a variation of the title – For Your Cars Only, For Your Claims Only, and For Your Ears Only, for example. The title of the fourteenth Bond film, A View To A Kill, taken from a short story in the For Your Eyes Only collection, has been rendered as A View To A Skill for an education company based in Wareham, Dorset, while Quantum of Solace appears to have inspired the name of a storage company in London - Quantum of Storage.

Six companies trade under the name of Thunderball (the nature of these businesses has not been disclosed), and Octopussy is just as popular. For example, there was a restaurant in the coastal town of Dartmouth called Octopussy (the company, now dissolved, was based in a building called Moonraker and presumably Octopussy was chosen to maintain the marine – and Bondian – theme), and visitors to Harley Street, London, might wish to call on Octopussy Consultants.

The Bond-related phrase that has inspired the most company names, however, is 007, Double-Oh-Seven, or variants thereof. There are, to name but a few examples, a taxi firm in Banbury called 007 Cars, caterers in Hull called 007 Catering, electricians in Bournemouth called 007 Electrical, and a printing company in St Albans called 007 Print. Then there is O-O-Severn Jets in Bristol (nothing to do with aircraft – this is a computer repair business), and Double O Seven Management in London.

Incidentally, if Blofeld is planning to restart his operations in the UK, he should think more creatively about a company name, as the names that might be best suited to his sort of enterprises – Spectre Limited, Spectre Global, Spectre Associates, Spectre Industries Limited – are already taken.

This survey of company names has shown that James Bond is good for business. Thanks to the enormous success of the Bond novels and films, Bond-related titles and idioms are memorable and familiar and well established as self-replicating memes requiring little actual reference to James Bond. Consequently, they give companies a head-start when attracting business or maintaining consumer interest.

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