How successful were publishers jumping on the James Bond publicity bandwagon?

Or: Content of Solace.

During any editorial planning process, a list of relevant upcoming events always gets thrown out as something to base ideas on.

The thing is, if everyone’s asking, “What can we do to get noticed when football/movies/music/christmas (delete as applicable) is trending?” then it makes it significantly harder not to be just adding to the noise.

New 007 movies come around about as frequently as an Olympic Games and, as evidenced by the recent release of Spectre, publishers have been clamouring for a piece of the pie.

New York Post came up with five actors who could be the next James Bond, while Backstage listed six, and ITV expanded the candidates to ten.

Forbes went down the money route with the richest Bond villains of all time (Moonraker’s Hugo Drax) and Rolling Stone ranked each theme song from worst (‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ – Lulu) to best (‘Goldfinger’ – Shirley Bassey). 

Giving us possibly the most obvious number one of any article on the internet, Paste Magazine produced a countdown of every James Bond computer game (I’ll save you 23 clicks through the gallery, it’s Goldeneye on the N64).

Probably the most interesting of these media pieces was an update to The Economist’s Booze, Bonks and Bodies table. First published in 2012 to tie in with the launch of Skyfall, it summarises how many of these vices each Bond actor has partaken in.


Publicity for the above graph has been widespread, most notably in The Independent and AskMen – two sites you’d may expect James Bond himself to be a reader of.

Here are the relative social stats on this data from one film to the next:


So coverage on Twitter and Reddit increased significantly, while Facebook engagement took a dramatic downturn. The Economist’s fanbase is bound to have increased during those three years, making this a very clear demonstration how much harder it has become for brands to make their content visible on the web’s most popular social platform.

In yet another confirmation of their no-shame attitude to journalism, Daily Mail recreated the exact same graph under their own guise just 35 hours after the original was posted. I’m not going to do them the service of including a link to the ‘article’, but trust me when I say that less than 10 minutes of that time would have been spent on the design.

With mainstream sites all having their own take on the 007 story, few brands (beyond those with official affiliations) have been able to use the franchise to infiltrate the public conscience.

Some attempted a tenuous link, including a James Bond CV from Kick Resume and a look at chess game situations as seen in Bond films from, but arguably the most successful was from mapping software provider Esri UK.

Their interactive travel destination map was featured in The Guardian, and also referenced by Mashable and Gizmodo who both failed to attribute the original source, a massive missed opportunity from both a branding and authority point of view for Esri. 

What impact this content will have on their brand visibility will be interesting to monitor over the coming months.

A very similar (and arguably better) version of this content was produced by travel company Hayes and Jarvis, however the extensive work seems to have gone to waste, with nothing more than a trickle of publicity.

So what can we learn from this?

If you’re planning on using a buzz event as a hook for some media attention, you need to invest in producing something genuinely worthwhile as there’s a pretty strong likelihood most sites you’re approaching for publicity will already have something in the making.

Obviously you have no way of knowing what your competitors have planned, but you can use date based searches to find out what stories were popular the last time a particular event came around, then construct some unique angles to build something bigger and better.

As a general rule of thumb, we put a third of our effort (and budget) into research, another third into production and the same again into promotion. Scrimping on any of these areas will invariably mean your content falls short.

Just because everyone’s focussed on something, it doesn’t automatically mean your current event content will seen as relevant. In reality, quite the opposite is true.

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