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Homecoming for Heineken at Amsterdam screening of Skyfall

Bérénice Lim Marlohe with 007 MAGAZINE's Luke Williams in Amsterdam

Actress Bérénice Lim Marlohe, one of the stars of Skyfall, was in attendance on Monday night as Heineken celebrated their involvement with the Bond franchise with a lavish screening of the 23rd Bond movie. 007 MAGAZINE's Luke Williams reports from Amsterdam.

Amsterdam Convention Factory - Heineken event

Amsterdam 29 October 2012 - Monday's screening of Skyfall at the Amsterdam Convention Factory had the feel of a celebratory homecoming. And in many ways it was - for the event marked the culmination of a fruitful 15-year association between the Bond franchise and the Dutch beer giant Heineken, which was founded by Amsterdam resident Gerard Adriaan Heineken in 1864. Appropriately, the Convention Factory was decked out in characteristic 'Heineken green' for the night, including a 'green carpet', while banners from the company's Skyfall promotional campaign were also dotted throughout the venue. Adding a touch of glamour were a dazzling array of 'Heineken hostesses' (note to EON casting department: many of these ladies would make splendid Bond girls!) who, with the requisite charm, supplied guests with drinks (mainly Heineken, of course!) James Bond himself would have felt at home in such luxurious and well-appointed surroundings!

Heineken display
Heineken display Heineken display

Bérénice Lim Marlohe at the Skyfall Heineken event in Amsterdam

As well as key figures from Heineken, one of the film's stars, the stunning Bérénice Lim Marlohe, was also in attendance for the screening and was interviewed on stage before the film began. The 33-year-old French actress admitted that she was relishing being at the heart of the major worldwide publicity whirlwind surrounding the latest Bond adventure: "From London we went to Zürich, Paris, Amsterdam - and now we're going to travel all around the world - Russia, Asia, Australia, South Africa … It's a real honour to belong to a Bond movie!"

The impressively cinematic and visually inventive Heineken advertisement 'The Express' featuring current 007 Daniel Craig and Marlohe (produced to tie in with the film by advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam and directed by Matthijs Van Heijningen Jnr), was also given a 'big screen' airing before Skyfall began. Both the film and the commercial were greeted rapturously by the large and enthusiastic audience, with every appearance of the iconic green Heineken bottle granted a similarly deafening cheer to the first appearance of Bond's Aston Martin DB5! At the conclusion of the screening, guests made their way to a lavish after-party, which was held in a hall decked out with a series of 'sets' that oozed Bondian glamour - for example, a casino, map-room and a luxury bed-room, while an impressive ice sculpture took pride of place at the centre of the hall. The film's associate producer Gregg Wilson was a special guest at the after-party and chatted warmly to the small group of journalists, including myself, who were in attendance, admitting he was delighted with Skyfall's critical reception and powerhouse box office opening in the UK.

The after-party concluded around midnight, by which time all the guests had been sufficiently filled with good humour (and Heineken!) that even the driving rain outside the Amsterdam Convention Factory couldn't dampen their high spirits.

Round table interview with Bérénice Lim Marlohe

A couple of days after the screening, speaking to 007 MAGAZINE by phone from Amsterdam before embarking on the next leg of the company's Skyfall promotional work abroad, Global Heineken Activation Manager, Hans Erik Tuijt offered some fascinating thoughts and insights into the company's Skyfall campaign and their relationship with EON Productions. "There's a long history between Heineken and James Bond," he explained. "I think the whole discussion about Bond drinking beer and it being a Heineken has helped Skyfall and has helped us as well. This process started two years ago. We had big discussions with EON, with Barbara [Broccoli] and Michael [Wilson] to decide how Bond could come into our world. We know the Heineken world very well and they know the Bond world extremely well, so they were good discussions!"

For this writer, part of the refreshing nature of Heineken's involvement with Skyfall has been the way that the product placement has been handled in a subtle manner; none of the appearances of Heineken bottles in Skyfall are jarring or come across as crass in the way that the 'plugs' for OMEGA and Ford did in Casino Royale. For example, when Bond nurses a Heineken in one of the film's early scenes the context and his actions are utterly convincing and the appearance of the bottle does nothing to undermine the verisimilitude of the scene or the character, indeed it arguably enhances our understanding of Bond's psychological state at that moment in the film.

Tuijt concurred that subtlety was the key element to Heineken's approach to product placement. "We've had product placement in all the movies since our participation with Bond began but we don't want product placement if it's not authentic and if it's not premium. Bond is a drinker - he knows when to drink champagne, he knows when to drink cocktails or scotch and he knows when there's time for a beer. If there's a logical time for a beer he will take a Heineken."

Bérénice Lim Marlohe plays Severine in Skyfall (2012)

Heineken 'Crack the Case' promotional poster featuring Bérénice Lim Marlohe  

Turning his attention to Monday's event, Tuijt admitted that screening Skyfall in Amsterdam in front of colleagues from the Heineken organisation was a "proud moment". "We had our board here and you saw how proud people were," he said. "We've worked at this for two years so it was a great moment to see that the reactions are so positive." Heineken's association with James Bond began in 1997 with the Pierce Brosnan film Tomorrow Never Dies, but Tuijt argued that the company's association with Skyfall, and the sight of Bond drinking a Heineken in a Bond movie, surpassed anything that the company had previously achieved in connection with the 007 franchise. "This is the highlight by a mile," he enthused with endearing passion. "We believe this is good for our brand and good for Skyfall too. Hundreds of millions of consumers will see our campaigns."

Tuijt hits on a crucial point here - a point that has been consistently overlooked by many commentators, particularly within the British media, who have been critical of the Bond series' willingness to integrate product placement and have treated the concept of marketing tie-ins with suspicion bordering on disdain. The fact is that the Bond series would not have survived for 50 years had it not been for successful and innovative marketing strategies, such as the current Heineken campaign. Commercial campaigns and partnerships, particularly in the multi-media age in which we now live, play an integral role in ensuring a film franchise like the Bond films can survive and thrive.

The considerable effort, expense and resources that Heineken have put into their 'Crack the Case' campaign and the vast attention focused on 'The Express' commercial (which has already been voluntarily downloaded 15 million times since its launch in September) have been a vital component in helping raise interest in the 23rd Bond film to the state of feverish worldwide excitement and anticipation we have seen over the past few weeks and will continue to see as the film builds towards its US release on 9 November. The success of EON, and Heineken's, marketing savvy can already be seen in the record-breaking box-office figures Skyfall garnered in the opening weekend of its release in the UK and 24 other international territories; this commercial success has ensured that the James Bond series has a solid platform to endure for another 50 years.

Heineken ice statue display at the Skyfall launch event in Amsterdam

HEINEKEN 'Crack The Case' Promotion

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