Article by Fleming’sBond.com
Even a cursory reading of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels reveals that the author enjoyed using brand placement within his work. Many of these reflected the writers own taste in various areas of life, but it also served to ground the series in reality. Readers could go out and in many cases purchase and use the same products that James Bond of the British Secret Service was using while saving the world.
To narrow down the top brands of James Bond was quite an undertaking in itself. While I’ve made something of a study of the subject on my own site, picking just 10 items for a list like this proved to be quite a challenge. But here they are, in no particular order.
When James Bond orders his famous Vesper Martini in Casino Royale, he is very specific as to the ingredients – “Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet.” While he prefers grain-based Vodka to potato-based, he makes no brand suggestions for that part of the martini. Later, in Thunderball Bond and Felix Leiter are having a discussion about the bar business and a bottle of Gordon’s is the example they use.
During the short story Risico, Bond orders a Negroni, and again, he specifies Gordon’s. While the brand is only mentioned in the three stories, the context of how it is used, and that it is specifically requested in these drinks shows its importance.
Haig and Haig (or Dimple or Pinch-bottle Haig)
This blended scotch with the unique bottle might just be Bond’s go-to when it comes to scotch whisky. In Casino Royale, Bond “insisted” on ordering Leiter’s Haig and Haig on the rocks, while in Live and Let Die the two of them have it with soda while visiting Harlem. Sir Hugo Drax kept a bottle of Haig and Haig in his desk at the launch site. Bond’s future father-in-law drank it, as did Mr Dupont while making his pitch to Bond.
The Service even stocked it in the room in Berlin where Bond was holed up as a sniper in The Living Daylights. This brand appears in six of the books, making it one of the most-referenced Bond brands.
When Bond is in America for Live and Let Die and Diamonds are Forever, he more often than not reaches for ‘Old Grandad’ as his standby bourbon. He has it in Old Fashioneds on the train with Solitaire, drinks it on the rocks before and after confronting the Robber in Tampa, and in DaF, he has it with bourbon and branch water. While several other brands of bourbon are mentioned throughout the series – I.W. Harper, Virginia Gentleman, Walker’s DeLuxe and Jack Daniels among them, Old Grandad gets the nod as Bond’s go-to brand in the Fleming books.
Despite being on a civil servant’s salary, James Bond has very expensive taste in his cars. His original 4 ½ Litre Supercharged Bentley which he drives in the first three novels is his prized possession. He bought it as a very young man and kept it in storage for many years until he started using it as his everyday car.
When that car was wrecked, Bond picks up a Mark II Continental Bentley which had been wrecked, and sinks £3000 into to make it “the most selfish car in England.” In Moonraker, he was considering sinking £5000 into a brand-new Bentley convertible, which he drives at the end of the novel.
Every self-respecting secret agent should have his own cigarettes! No opposing spy agencies would possibly pick up on that detail. Wait…what? James Bond has his own cigarettes produced from a special Balkan and Turkish mixture made for him by Morlands of Grosvenor Street. This Macedonian blend also has the distinctive “tell” of “three gold rings round the butt.” He smokes 60-70 of these things a day.
When he gets his medical report in Thunderball, it is noted that these cigarettes also have a much higher nicotine content that normal cigarettes. Bond is certainly faithful to this brand, but could it catch up with him – even before the nicotine and tar do? Bond’s file with the Kremlin specifically notes that he “smokes special cigarettes with three gold bands.”
Sea Island Cotton Shirts
This isn’t technically a brand, but it seems whenever Bond is getting dressed, especially in the warmer climates, that he’s throwing on a Sea Island cotton shirt. In The Man With The Golden Gun, he’s even pulling on Sea Island underpants. The shirts make it into four other Fleming novels, and if I recall, many of the continuation novels as well.
Simply put, Sea Island cotton is a species of cotton (Gossypium barbadense if you want to get technical) which has a longer “staple” than regular cotton. That, combined with its silky texture, makes it especially comfortable when made into clothing. Egyptian cotton sheets are made from a long staple cotton. The Sea Island cotton is grown in the Caribbean and is part of the “Caribbean luxury lifestyle” which is likely where Mr Fleming latched onto this particular product.
Tiptree ‘Little Scarlet’ Strawberry Jam
James Bond has his routines. When he’s not on assignment, he has the same breakfast everyday, and along with Cooper’s Vintage Oxford Marmalade and Norwegian Heather Honey from Fortnum’s, he has Tiptree ‘Little Scarlet’ Strawberry jam. Fleming here shows his ability to insert style and luxury into even the most mundane, everyday item. This particular jam is made out of the Little Scarlet strawberry, which is tiny, intensely flavored, and very hard to grow. It doesn’t like extreme weather and doesn’t keep once picked. Tiptree grows the berries right at the same place where the jam is made. The Cooper’s Marmalade is another high end brand – a dark, thick marmalade with a strong taste of bitter oranges. All go great on thick whole-wheat toast, which is the way Bond has them.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual
Another big-ticket item from the Fleming novels, the Rolex watch makes several appearances. Bond is wearing one in Live and Let Die, in Thunderball Giuseppe Petacchi covets a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Chronometer on a flexible gold bracelet. In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, James Bond is the one wearing the Rolex Oyster Perpetual on the expanding metal bracelet, which he turns into a weapon when escaping from Blofeld’s mountain lair. The watch shatters on the jaw of a guard, but by the end of the movie Bond is sporting a new replacement.
James Bond has to travel quite a bit in the course of his job. When he has to travel to America, he prefers to go low and slow – relatively speaking. He takes the B.O.A.C. Stratocruiser in Live and Let Die and in Diamonds are Forever. Goldfinger steals a B.O.A.C. Stratocruiser near the end of that novel. By the time For Your Eyes Only rolls around the Stratocruiser is no longer in service, and Bond is unhappy that the Comet flies too high and too fast and he doesn’t have time for two proper meals and for a full night’s sleep anymore.
Taittinger Blanc de Blanc
While in France, James Bond does as the French do, and drinks Champagne. This particular one is his favorite, and we see it right from the very first book, as Bond orders Taittinger while commenting that “it is probably the finest champagne in the world.” He apparently has talked to M about it, because M makes mention of it while at Blades in Moonraker, and when Bond is back in France at Royale-les-Eaux for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, he orders Taittinger again and it is noted that has become a tradition for him to order this while at Royale.
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