Monday, 1 December 2008

Aston Martin: Hard Times

For the November issue of Esquire I interviewed the formidable and admirable James Bond producer/gatekeeper Barbara Broccoli, mainly on the fairly rich topic of marketing of and product placement within the Bond movies. Naturally we talked a fair bit about Aston Martin; that firm’s long and fruitful relations with the Bond franchise; and the special enthusiasm for Bond of its current CEO Dr Ulrich Bez, himself a keen connoisseur of speed and gadgetry. The blue-chip, look-and-dream-but-don't-touch lustre of the Aston Martin brand is what has made it such a useful partner to the Bond enterprise. ‘Aston Martin don’t have a huge advertising spend’, Broccoli told me, ‘because they sell every car they make before it’s made, people are so desperate to buy.’
It seems that last year Aston Martin sold 7,300 vehicles. This year they expect to shift 'only' 6,500. Thus today the firm announced it was cutting 300 full-time and 300 temporary jobs, around one-third of its UK staff. ‘Like other premium car brands’, said Dr Bez, ‘Aston Martin has been forced to take action to respond to the unprecedented downturn in the global economy.’ Christmas break had already been extended a fortnight, which was rather a black crow of an omen. Unite has, naturally, pointed out that this spells ‘a bleak Christmas’ for those laid-off.
Is it worse to lose one’s job right before Christmas, or first thing in the New Year? Which has the most piercing effect on one’s personal and familial morale and the management of one’s household finances? I fear a lot of us are about to be told, if not to find out very directly.

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