The intellectual property story behind the James Bond films provides practical guidance on how nurturing assets makes them grow, bear fruit and become a money magnet.

Bond is the second highest grossing series ever – over US$5 billion. The figure reaches nearly US$11 billion when adjusted for inflation.

Danjaq LLC is the holding company for the copyright and trade marks in the James Bond series. EON Productions is the film production company for the series. There have been 22 films, the most recent Quantum of Solace. [2022 edit: There have been twenty-seven films in total, produced and released between 1962 and 2021.]

It has been noted that the value today, in 2009, of the James Bond series of films is about equal to the value 20 years ago of the entire MGM library of films created in the 20th century. The Bond series has long been a jewel in the MGM crown.

The intellectual property who loved me

A single Bond film would have never created the harvest existing today. A one-off film or other product has a harder time growing audience loyalty and popularity compared to a successful series.

Historically the films have been adaptations of the James Bond 007 novels and short stories by Ian Fleming commencing in 1953.

Six James Bond figures exhibited at Madame Tussauds London

In time the benefit of having a series was recognised by Fleming and the Bond filmmakers. Both reaped a much greater harvest from producing a series of works.

Profiting from a series is not novel. Publishers of books, TV serials, music and manufactured products do so. Thinking differently, collectables, smartphones, computers and other annually or regularly updated technology devices reap similar benefits from being released in a series and forming a consumer ecosystem.

A successful series becomes a brand capable of being adapted, extended or customised to draw the crowd back and also to serve niche markets. As regards the Midas touch acquired by becoming a brand think Virgin – first a record retailer, then planes, credit cards, phones, TV series, islands for the rich and famous, and now space flights.

Becoming a brand as a general rule makes it easier to promote and deliver a series of editions, versions, sequels, tie-ins and spin-offs than it does to do one-off products.

One reason is costs, assets and activities can be amortized across a series. Critical are brand recognition and trust. This recalls a remark by business guru Peter Drucker:

Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs.”

Drucker also wrote that the only business functions that are ultimately essential to keep in-house are marketing and sales.

What the producers of a product series are doing is working like gardeners. They are watering a tree to grow over time, and year on year provide a harvest of fruit, and with their seeds grow an orchard.

Intellectual property tree of life

These fruit trees attract other beings. The Bond series attracts rivers of money from product placement, brand name placement and related revenue sources.

Companies such as Aston Martin, Ford, Omega, Smirnoff, Virgin, Avon, Sony, Swatch, Bollinger and Heineken all paid handsomely to be seen in Quantum of Solace. The revenue from them according to some sources was perhaps as much as one third of the film’s US$230 million budget.

This cash generation illustrates the harvest Bond creates from decades of product and brand development.

The important point is that the owners of the Bond assets don’t now just EARN REVENUE, they use the FUNDS OF OTHERS TO PRODUCE THEIR SERIES. It’s their perpetual tree of life.

Noric Dilanchian