|James Bond||Jason Bourne||Jack Bauer|
Think it’s a coincidence that these three super crime-fighting-machines share the same initials? I think not.
Bourne was bourne as America’s answer to the ultimate killing machine and British super spy who is the only one (other than God) who can save the Queen: James Bond.
Last night, I watched “The Bourne Ultimatum”. Last week, I got through Season 3 of “24” (I know! I’m trying to catch up).
Bourne and Bauer are the “Bond”s of the new millenium, with Bauer doing the honors for the small screen.
- Bond is super-slick. Bourne is your boy-next-door.
- Bond is stylish – he drives the hottest cars, wears Prada suits. Bourne dresses like a bum.
- Bond has impeccable hair. Bourne sports a close-shaven, military cut.
- Bond drinks “shaken” martinis. Bourne probably drinks cheap, adulterated liquor (especially when in Russia and India).
- Bond gets the ultimate gadgets made for him. Bourne simply borrows a few from his enemies (after he’s knocked them out cold).
- Bond doesn’t blink before killing. Bourne is torn apart when he has to kill someone.
- Bond’s women are plastic bimbos that add nothing to the plot. Bourne and Bauer’s women (except for Kim Bauer, of course) are intelligent, have character, and are a lot more than sex-toys for their men.
- Bond insults women with his use-and-throw attitude towards them; Bourne and Bauer love and respect their women, and mourn for them.
- Bond has no identifiable weakness, but Bourne has his girlfriend, and Bauer his family – and drug addiction problem.
- Bond has a smirk on his face at the end of the day; Bourne has nightmares about the people he killed, and Bauer weeps like a baby (end of season 3) for deliberately killing a fellow-agent.
Bourne and Bauer: These two are every man’s (and woman’s) ultimate heroes. They look ordinary, dress ordinary, their emotions are pretty ordinary (in a good way): they weep, they flinch, they feel guilt, they hesitate, they love and they mourn – just like you and me.
What separates them from the cold, merciless, super-cool bond who will blow up a hangar killing 200 men and bed a super sexy foreign-language-speaking babe – all in a day’s work – is that these guys feel real. Yes, they have extraordinary kick-ass talents, but the way they go about their life, is identifiable by the average person in the 21st century, where Bond comes across as fake (gasp!)
There are a few take-aways from the skyrocketing success of Bourne and Bauer, and the declining fortunes of Bond (until the entry of Craig – but that is another post altogether).
- Yes, you certainly can take a competitor’s product (Bond), localize it (Americanize it), add better features, benefits, or simply make it a better product (Jason Bourne), repackage it, resell it, and be insanely successful. Yes, you can copy your competitors, and still beat them at it.
- Your audience has to be able to identify with your brand. Bond’s brand is tired, old and spent. You just stop wishing he were so darn perfect! Bourne and Bauer have created their own brands – they are quite imperfect, very real, merciful, emotional, humble, vulnerable, think-before-you-shoot and one-woman types.
- Predictability is not always a good thing. That’s why Daniel Craig’s newest Bond is trying to re-invent Bond – when asked by the bartender how he wants his drink, says ““Do I look like I care?”.
- Reality is a lot more powerful than fiction. The ratings-success of Saturday Night Live, Survivor, and even terrible shows like Big Brother is in-your-face proof. Even fictional characters – like Spiderman and Superman – have to be and feel like they are real.
- Credibility comes from being believable. Make your site copy believable, make your “benefits” believable, make your “U.S.P” believable, and when your customers call you, don’t greet them like a pre-recorded voice recording (think: shrill “Corporate accounts payable, Nina speaking. Just a moment” voice of annoying secretary from “Office Space”).
Be true to yourself. Be real. With your your friends, your family, your children, your colleagues, and with yourself.
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