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Not Shaken, Not Stirred: James Bond's Champagne Of Choice Is Crisis Proof

Not Shaken, Not Stirred: James Bond's Champagne Of Choice Is Crisis Proof
Photomontage / Eon Productions
Marie-Josée Cougard

PARIS - "An exceptional year for Bollinger champagne..." Considering the current economic situation, Jérôme Philipon's comment is refreshing indeed.

Even as the overall champagne market was down by 5% at the end of September, the family-run Bollinger producers predict record sales for 2013, says Philipon, the CEO of the champagne house. He expects a growth of 3 to 5% in 2012, following an impressive 8% last year.

What’s Bollinger’s secret? Bond, James Bond -- who only drinks Bollinger champagne. The huge success of Skyfall, the franchise’s latest installment, is the perfect opportunity for the champagne house to put its 2002 vintage in the limelight.

Bottled especially for the film, the 002 for 007 limited edition is a nod to Her Majesty’s most stylish secret agent. The box containing the bottle comes in the shape of Bond’s Walther PPK gun, and opens only when the purchaser unlocks the "secret" code – 007, obviously.

"This kind of special bottle only means additional sales for us," says Philipon.

Consumers like it so much that Bollinger estimates that the limited edition, sold at 150 euros, is responsible for 20% of this year’s growth. "It’s a huge hit everywhere," says the Bollinger chief. "Except in Spain, where consumers are reluctant to associate the brand with James Bond. And Russia, where they’re not big on weapon-related products..."

Bollinger did not have to pay rights for references to the film on its labels, since the champagne house reached a deal with the Broccoli family that controls the James Bond film franchise.

The world’s most famous spy is not solely responsible for such good results: Investing 12 million euros in a brand new production site in Oger in northeastern France proved very successful. So does Bollinger’s new bottle, inspired by the model sold in 1846, and which aims at differentiating the brand from its competitors.

"We represent less than 1% of the volume of champagne sales," says Philipon. "We will only succeed if we are able to distinguish ourselves."

Added to this is a big change in strategy: Bollinger is historically linked to the United Kingdom – a market that used to account for 40% of the brand’s exports.

But the estate has learned a lesson from what it calls "the 2009 disaster," when England and several other foreign markets almost completely closed their doors to Bolly’s bubbles.

As a result, the shares – Bollinger then exported 85% of its bottles -- plunged by 55% in the first quarter. The brand’s goal today is to become less dependent on the United Kingdom and conquer market shares back home in France.

Bollinger is now the most served brand at the Mandarin Oriental and Shangri La hotels in Paris. "It’s easy for us to gain more market shares in France," says Philipon, "considering how low we’ve started."

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Geopolitics

Smaller Allies Matter: Afghanistan Offers Hard Lessons For Ukraine's Future

Despite controversies at home, Nordic countries were heavily involved in the NATO-led war in Afghanistan. As the Ukraine war grinds on, lessons from that conflict are more relevant than ever.

Photo of Finnish Defence Forces in Afghanistan

Finnish Defence Forces in Afghanistan

Johannes Jauhiainen

-Analysis-

HELSINKI — In May 2021, the Taliban took back power in Afghanistan after 20 years of international presence, astronomical sums of development aid and casualties on all warring sides.

As Kabul fell, a chaotic evacuation prompted comparisons to the fall of Saigon — and most of the attention was on the U.S., which had led the original war to unseat the Taliban after 9/11 and remained by far the largest foreign force on the ground. Yet, the fall of Kabul was also a tumultuous and troubling experience for a number of other smaller foreign countries who had been presented for years in Afghanistan.

In an interview at the time, Antti Kaikkonen, the Finnish Minister of Defense, tried to explain what went wrong during the evacuation.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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“Originally we anticipated that the smaller countries would withdraw before the Americans. Then it became clear that getting people to the airport had become more difficult," Kaikkonen said. "So we decided last night to bring home our last soldiers who were helping with the evacuation.”

During the 20-year-long Afghan war, the foreign troop presence included many countries:Finland committed around 2,500 soldiers,Sweden 8,000,Denmark 12,000 and Norway 9,000. And in the nearly two years since the end of the war, Finland,Belgium and theNetherlands have commissioned investigations into their engagements in Afghanistan.

As the number of fragile or failed states around the world increases, it’s important to understand how to best organize international development aid and the security of such countries. Twenty years of international engagement in Afghanistan offers valuable lessons.

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