A bottle of Magners Mr Bond?

An Aston Martin DB5 as seen in Goldfinger. Exp...

An Aston Martin DB5 as seen in Goldfinger. Expensive items are often part of a glamorous lifestyle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The world has changed. Traditional business models which rely on advertising to keep them afloat have to evolve or die. When you could count the number of TV channels on Mickey Mouse’s left hand, it made sense for companies to pay lots of money to ply their goods over the airwaves. After all, you were guaranteed a decent share of viewers.

Nowadays, with satellite and cable TV, the audience is more fragmented. Not only that, but many households can now record their programs and watch them later, zipping past the adverts in the process. There are internet services available through which programs can be viewed on demand from most of the major channels. Companies like Netflix and Love Film carry a huge catalogue of advert free content available on demand. A growing number of people are not watching broadcast material at all.

To counter this, advertisers have turned to techniques like product placement. If you can persuade a film producer to feature your products, the viewer gets the subliminal message that he or she will be a bit more like the hero if they use a particular brand. I don’t have a problem with the technique per se, providing it’s subtly done and fits in with the overall film.

In the books, James Bond drove a Bentley. In the transition to screen, his steed of choice is an Aston Martin. I’m OK with that. I can understand that someone who likes Bentleys might also like Aston Martins. When I see him jump into a BMW, it stretches my belief. Would the quintessentially British spy really choose a Teutonic behemoth like a 7 series? When they turn Bond into a lager swilling Mondeo driver, something in my head says “hold on a minute…”

Today I learned that advertisers are experimenting with a new method of product placement. In post production, they digitally splice in the footage of the product they are trying to promote. Maybe they change an advertising hoarding in the background to reflect something suitable to the local audience or maybe they place a can of soft drink prominently on a table in the foreground. Because it is done after the fact, the film could be customised for different audiences.

I’m not sure I like this idea. It might mean that you never see the same film twice. The first time you watch the classic Ice Cold in Alex, you will see a very thirsty John Mills sink a Carlsberg. The next time you see it, he might be drinking a bottle of WKD Blue. Can we really trust the advertisers to splice in content that matches the film?


Her Majesty in 3D

Queen of United Kingdom (as well as Canada, Au...

Queen of United Kingdom (as well as Canada, Australia, and other Commonwealth realms) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

British history has to be among the richest in the world. There’s murder, betrayal and revolution (and that’s just Henry the 8th. Quite how my history teacher at school managed to bore me to tears about it is beyond me. She could take the most fascinating events in British History and reduce them to a boring monotonous drone. As a teenager, some pretty exciting stuff fought for my attention, so it was no surprise that I switched off during her lessons.

Since leaving school, the games I play mean that I have a renewed interest in history and there has never been a better time to be a history buff than today. There are some fine period dramas and some great historical documentaries to say nothing of the rich literature literally falling off the shelves.

Yesterday, in Buckingham Palace, Her Majesty made history. Every year, as she has done for 60 years, she gives her traditional Christmas address. For many British families, it is something that is intricately woven into the tapestry of Christmas. An essential part of the yuletide celebrations, life pauses at 3PM for 15 minutes to sit down with a glass of sherry and listen to what the Queen has to say.

Whilst the monarchy ceased to hold any political power, she is still a big part in Politicians’ lives. As all Prime Ministers before him, David Cameron has to go and see the Queen once a week to talk about how things are going. It all happens behind closed doors and details of any discussions are strictly confidential. I imagine there have been some pretty tense moments over the silverware during some of the more fraught political events of the past.

So, to David Cameron, seeing the Queen in 3D is a weekly event and although she remains outwardly neutral, I bet it’s at the back of his mind that he doesn’t want to do anything to incur her displeasure. After all, she retains the ability to dismiss governments should she ever consider it necessary.

I can think of many things which would benefit from being broadcast in 3D. The swooping and diving of Avatar for example, the fast paced car chases from James Bond or the sweeping vistas of scenery in a wildlife documentary from some far away land. The Palace said they wanted to do something different during the Queen’s diamond jubilee year and far be it from me as her humble subject to criticise, but I think the Queen has more than enough gravitas without such gimmicks.