James Bond is Like Coca-Cola, Which Is Why For Him, This Is No Time to Die

Contributed by: Dan Silvestri and Tom Pizzato - Spy Movie Navigator

This article is based on the podcast Spy Movie Navigator did with the same name.   You can listen to this podcast here: (link). 

This article is based on the podcast Spy Movie Navigator did with the same name.

With No Time to Die on the horizon, there is lots of speculation about whether James Bond will survive this mission and whether Nomi, Lashana Lynch’s character, will indeed take over the 007 moniker and become the Double-O agent in future films. Rumor and speculations have been flying worldwide since EON Productions started filming. But as we know anything can happen.

Nomi’s Name

First of all, let’s look at Nomi. We think that’s a variation of Naomi. You can look it up. There are lots of different variations, but Nomi is a name from Hebrew-Japanese origin and it means beautiful, pleasant, delightful. Well, that’s a great name for a front and center Double-O agent’s intro here for Lashana Lynch. And from the No Time to Die trailer, Lashana Lynch is, all of that and tough.

In the trailer when she looks at his other knee and says the one that works, It’s like when she’s going to shoot him in the knee if he doesn’t stay in his lane. Yes, she’s tough.

But Nomi, if you’ll listen, you’ll say it slowly – NO-MI or NO-ME. Maybe her role will be short-lived. Will she survive this mission? Or could it be KNOW-ME, like we need to get to know her as we’ll be seeing her in future movies?

But these all speculations based on wordplay, but we’re all wondering whether Bond will survive, but there are a couple of other things really here.

We don’t know if the screenwriters are into numerology. We tried to find out and I couldn’t find out. In our research, there wasn’t anything that said, ‘yeah, they’re into numerology’. However, if you look into this a little bit, Nomi in numerology is eight, and that means power. It’s the great or marked ability to do, act or accomplish something. It’s a possession of control or command over others. Authority.

And the second big thing here is sacrifice, surrender or destruction of something prized for the sake of a higher claim. How does this fit Nomi in this movie so far? Well, there are a lot of interesting things here.  Is she going to sacrifice her life or is she going to sacrifice Bond’s life for a higher claim by authority, a higher goal? There’s some good stuff in here.

A skeptical view of the name Nomi is to look where we’ve seen the name in other movies. We’ve only found one other movie character with that name, that wasn’t in Asian cartoon, and that was Elizabeth Berkley’s character in the movie Showgirls. We don’t know if it was Elizabeth Berkley’s interpretation, the director’s interpretation or whatever, but she was just a nasty character that you really didn’t want to see anymore. So let’s just hope that the Nomi in No Time to Die is much better than the Nomi was in Showgirls.

We know she’s going to be tough. We know that for sure from the trailer. She was terrific in the trailer. She was good, but there always seems to be something in names. Writers are good at this kind of stuff. That’s why the Hemingway references in Licence to Kill and what we thought about with the bell in the No Time to Die trailer referencing “For Whom the Bell Tolls, are important to examine. We discuss the “For Whom the Bell Tolls” reference in our podcast on the No Time to Die trailer.  You can listen to that here (link). 

The Dove
Paloma is the character portrayed by Ana de Armas. What does Poloma mean? It means dove, which is a symbol of peace. So, is she going to have a character role in this film that’s going to be more like on Bond’s side or what? We don’t know, but these writers think of this stuff like we’re thinking of this stuff.

Coca-Cola’s Secret Formula

Bond is like Coca-Cola. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The Coke formula was secret. No one person knew the entire Coca-Cola formula for a hundred years. It’s locked in a safe and people know pieces of it and then they know or put their pieces together and they make the stuff.

The Pepsi Generation

So, in 1963, the maverick and creative genius Alan Maxwell Pottasch launched the ‘Pepsi Generation’ campaign. It was the first major advertising campaign to associate a product with a lifestyle rather than features.

The model before this was to talk about this product this feature, that feature, so this is why you should buy it. This campaign associated the product, Pepsi, with a lifestyle. So they had commercials showing young people skiing or having fun on beaches. And again, it was a lifestyle they were connecting to and not, not the product features. You’re going to live like this.

This made Pepsi a strong competitor to Coca-Cola. There’s a great article on this that came out right after Alan died. It’s called “Creative Father of the ‘Pepsi Generation’ Turned the Lifestyle into a Selling Point” by Betsy McKay on August 4, 2007, in The Wall Street Journal. Here’s a link to the article: (link).

So, here you see a product marketing campaign against a major competitor, Coca-Cola based on associating its product with the younger generation. And it pigeonholed Coca-Cola as the has-been product for the older generation. They never said that explicitly. They never had to, but it worked brilliantly and they had slogans like, “You’ve got a lot to live. Pepsi’s got a lot to give” – just brilliant stuff.

I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke

Coke fought back in the 70s with its own “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” campaign, which was a huge hit. The man responsible for this campaign was Bill Backer. Bill Backer created the campaign and Billy Davis and Roger Cook actually wrote that song.

But Coke nonetheless was still feeling their market share slipping.

Taking The Gloves Off
Pepsi initially didn’t outright say Coke was the older generation in their initial Pepsi Generation campaign. They kind of implied that.

If you fast forward to the 1990s: you had the Mac versus the PC commercials. This was really in-your-face and not subtle. Did Pepsi’s next move inspire those commercials?

In 1985 Pepsi created an ad attacking Coca-Cola as a relic. There is an archeologist somewhere hundreds of years in the future. And he’s digging up something and it’s a Coke bottle and he’s like quizzically looking at it like, what the hell could this mean? You can see how brilliant this ad is. It won all kinds of awards. It was spectacular. You can find it on YouTube here: (link).

Now Pepsi has Coke cornered. They had to do something.

What Does This Have To Do with James Bond?

We titled this article to imply we would talk about James Bond and No Time to Die, so far we’ve been talking about the cola wars between Coke and Pepsi.   Let’s see where this intersects with today’s James Bond and No Time to Die.

Let’s Change It

In 1985, Coca-Cola decided because the Pepsi generation was eating into their market share, they had to do something. And they came up with the New Coke. They came up with a new formula that they were going to put out there to compete now with Pepsi in a better way, and to become more responsive to the world, to the market, to the new generation, to the new way of doing things.

Pepsi made Coke a relic an out-of-touch-with-reality-dinosaur. Now we’ve heard Bond referred to as a dinosaur in Goldeneye: “I think you’re a sexist, misogynist dinosaur — a relic of the Cold War”, M said to Bond. This a little connection. It’s going to get bigger.

Coke was still number one, but Pepsi was eating the market share. That wasn’t good for Coke. So, they changed their formula. Mistake, right? 13% of soda drinkers liked the new formula. Epic implosion for Coke.

Pepsi jumped all over Coke in commercials, consumers protested and wanted the old Coke back and less than three months later, Coca-Cola announced they were bringing back the old formula as Coke Classic.

Was this a colossal failure on the Coca-Cola company’s part? Clearly, they spent millions of dollars on the New Coke campaign and formula.  But they got a lot of press. They got millions of dollars worth of press out of this. And when they brought back the old formula, because consumers were screaming for the old formula again, that was big news.

The Changing World for Bond

EON Productions is looking at the landscape of the world today: with the #Me Too movement, the focus on the power and leadership of young girls, the focus advancing women’s causes. EON Productions has decided not to call Bond Girl Bond Girls anymore, but Bond Women and so on. All of this is now connected. Why? To be altruistic? Probably not. They weren’t doing all this to be altruistic.

We think they were thinking: Well the market is responding in a certain way. Like the Pepsi and Coke markets responded. We must remember that half of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE movies had better worldwide revenue numbers than the BOND movies introduced since Mission: Impossible released in 1996. Listen to our podcast The Spies Who Loathe Me for a discussion of how MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE is battling the Bond franchise (link).

EON Productions is feeling the heat and you know we still have this Bond guy who is a womanizer and all of his faults. We think they want to broaden the interest in their base: not just men who love Bond movies. But to expand it to the millennials and the younger generation to women and so on.

Dave Holcomb talked a little bit about that on the podcast we did on his book: “His World Never Dies – The Evolution of James Bond”. We have an interview with Dave in our podcast with the same name (link).

Other filmmakers have women spies front and center. Films like: Atomic Blonde, Salt, Charlie’s Angels, Spy, Anna, Red Sparrow, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and Get Smart all had a woman spy in a lead role.

Some of these movies were making money. They are all trying to capitalize on highlighting women in these lead roles. EON Productions wants to tap into what is happening today in the real world and not be the Coca-Cola bottle found and examined quizzically a few hundred years from now.

Is EON Productions Changing Its Formula?

Will EON Productions truly change the formula in this movie: No Time to Die? This would be a change after 58 years or so, and not a hundred like Coke. But it looks like they’re doing it. So have EON Productions, taken the 1985 version of Coke as a model?

Let’s hope they learned.

Lots of rumors are flying. At the beginning of the filming of Bond 25, now titled No Time to Die, there were rumors that Lashana Lynch, as Nomi, would be introduced as 007. Remember that rumor? Oh yeah, the door opens after M says “Where’s 007?” and in comes Lashana Lynch. That was the rumor in the beginning when they announced Bond 25. And even with the first official trailer out Nomi is acknowledged as a Double-0 agent. But they never say the number that’s after the Double-O (sneaky ad writers).

And one of the rumors about why they changed directors was that James Bond was supposed to die. 

They might still do that in the movie, we just don’t know. But, like Coca-Cola, there’s a lot of hype and lots of attention being paid to Bond and No Time to Die right now and here we’re talking about it again.

So the formula concept here is the same. They’re looking at how to change the formula. We think Eon Productions wants to change the formula.

James Bond’s Previous Formula Changes

Even if you look back at Ian Fleming, when he wrote “The Spy Who Loved Me”, he was changing the formula. And in that particular novel, Bond doesn’t appear until about the middle of the manuscript. And it’s this woman Viviene Michel who’s telling the story. It was not well received by the public. Ian Fleming had tried to change the formula.

In his next novel, the next year, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, Bond is mentioned right on the first page and he’s back to the old formula. And in reality, when Eon Productions did The Spy Who Loved Me movie, there was nothing based on that novel that Fleming actually wrote other than the title. So what does Eon Productions want to do?

Ian Fleming tried to kill off Bond in “From Russia With Love”. When they end that book he’s actually poisoned, potentially dying. Because you know, Fleming wanted to get rid of James Bond and write something else. This was much like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wanted to do with Sherlock Holmes. He wanted to get rid of Holmes and write something else.

The Impact of Formula Changes

Coke and EON want to change the formula. Okay. It didn’t work out exactly for Coke or for Ian Fleming when he wrote: “The Spy Who Loved Me”. Quite frankly, we don’t think it will work out for EON Productions. But, they seem to be toying with this idea right now.

Reacting To The Consumer

This movie is the Coke formula. This is what they’re thinking. And now what? Coca-Cola realized that Coca-Cola belongs to the consumers, not the company. Meaning that they felt the consumer reaction and flat sales when they came out with their New Coke and Coke change back quickly, like in 10 weeks.

EON Productions doesn’t have the ability to pivot that quickly if they release a movie with a changed formula that the consumer doesn’t like. They can’t change in 10 weeks as Coca-Cola did. It takes them 5 years to put a movie out.

However, they can change within the movie, which we think they did. At least this is our assumption.

Is This All a Publicity Stunt?

So what will EON Productions do? Is all this hype, a publicity stunt? It could be, which would be great for them because it’s been five years since coming out with their last movie. These rumors are getting all of us to talk about Bond, to hype up No Time to Die so that it’s a box office smash and help the franchise.   They haven’t put a movie out in five years, which is a long time. It’s a long time to be waiting: maybe. Or maybe they really wanted to change the formula.

Just Because You’re Paranoid Doesn’t Mean They Aren’t After You
Let’s remember Joseph Heller’s line in Catch-22: “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”  EON Productions are running up against MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, which in 2021 and then again in 2022 are releasing movies. This has to be putting the heat on EON. It’s been five years for Bond and they may be changing all this stuff. And if it takes them another five years to react to whatever happens from this one. What happens to the franchise?

Having To Respond To The Backlash

So there you have it. Coke got a lot of backlash from its consumers when they changed the formula. And based on all the rumors at the beginning of Bond 25 when it was being announced, EON Productions got a lot of backlash based on the rumors from fans saying that Bond is Bond, 007 is Bond. Tons of podcasts, YouTube videos, articles almost daily about this stuff.

Look at Bond’s history. Fleming was going to kill off Bond at the end of, “From Russia With Love”. He doesn’t do it. And his next two books were “Dr. No” and “Goldfinger”. If he hadn’t written those books… Remember, the first movie was “Dr. No”.. What would have happened?

So what will EON do?
Maybe, and this is likely to be true if they follow the Coke analogy, maybe we see Bond dying at the end of this film, like in the “From Russia With Love” novel. Dying, not dead. Leaving us with a cliffhanger.

Let’s hope it resolves better than the “Who Shot JR cliffhanger” on the TV show, “Dallas” and his death is just a dream. Or worse yet, assuming this is Daniel Craig’s last turn at Bond, the new Bond actor leaps from the dying/dead body like Joe Pendelton in Here Comes Mr. Jordan or in the remake Heaven Can Wait? A new James Bond pops up from the dying Bond, just as he’s about to expire? Let’s hope not.

A cliffhanger would give Eon Productions another two years, three years, five years, whatever it takes for them to come up with another movie to decide what they’re going to really do.

Is It Time For a Retirement Party?
We talk a little bit about this in our, in our No Time to Die trailer podcast, but maybe Nomi is introduced as 007. Maybe she’s going to be introduced as that. James has kind of retired. The implication is he’s old. In the trailer, they go out of the way to make James Bond seem like he’s been gone a while.

The shot in the trailer when he really looked old was when he’s talking to that security guard. He was asked what his name was. He said Bond …. James Bond. The guard had no idea who this old guy was. We think that was a brilliant way of getting that line into the movie in a different way than normal. (again, changing the formula). Skyfall kind of gave you that feeling as well.

The Trap Eon Productions Finds Itself In

We think EON Productions has a problem though. In the No Time to Die trailer, Nomi tells Bond “the world has changed, Commander Bond. Stay in your lane.” The problem is this: if he survives, (assuming he does and we think he’s going to survive. Based on the Coca-Cola formula, we can assume that.) then how do they bring back an old Bond? This is the problem. They have painted themselves in a little corner here with him being old.

They can’t reboot again. That would be crazy, wouldn’t it? With Daniel, they did a complete reboot and went back to Ian Fleming’s first James Bond book, “Casino Royale”.

But now you’ve got five stories kind of connected here. They’re all connected his five movies, right? So now there’s like, yeah, you’re old, you’re retired, you’re whatever. Now what? He must survive this movie.

With Daniel’s supposed retirement from the role, they are going to have to start with somebody new and in a totally different direction.

So, this is the conundrum there. We think they were thinking at the beginning of their work on this movie, maybe he dies in this movie and we bring up Lashana Lynch as the new 007. We have a woman spy.  But now they’re there in this corner. Now they’re going to have Bond survive because the feedback is not good or whatever. And now he’s old. Now, what do you do? It’s a problem. If they would’ve just said he’s retired cause he was sick of it. Tired of it. Tired of that lifestyle. Okay, that’s good.

Plus, you have a whole industry with James Bond, this James Bond that: all talking about your product and you change it?

So, number one, he’s got to survive. Number two, they have to wrestle with this problem.

However, the trailer appears to go out of its to make him look like he’s been gone awhile nobody even knows who he is anymore. He’s Mr. Irrelevant.

This is a problem. This is a company with about $7 billion in gross revenues for their movies so far. About $4 billion of that was Daniel Craig’s movies. But the world is changing. EON Productions would be wrong if they don’t do what Coke did or at least play around with the formula, but in the end, keep the old one.

Coke released the new formula. and got rid of the old formula. But they were able to react quickly where EON can’t. If they change the formula in this movie and they go with the Lashana-Lynch-as-007 plot, they may find out that only 13% of James Bond fans liked the new formula. Like the Coke experience with their change.

The Old Guard
It’s going to be really interesting, in general, for spy movies because the two biggest series are at a point where their chief spy guy is getting old. We think Tom Cruise’s age is why they’re doing back-to-back releases for MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE. They need to do a handoff. It will be interesting to see what they do: whether they had come up with a new Ethan Hunt or whether it’s Ethan Hunt now running the whole thing as Phelps did. But MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE has the benefit of what happened in the TV show where the teams changed over. They can continue that model easier.

Bond’s a little tougher problem because of where they’ve taken the story arc and Bond’s aging.

Spy Movie Navigator’s Guess

So, we think James Bond will not only survive into a beyond-Craig-as-Bond film with another male lead, but he’ll survive for many decades to come. We don’t think any of us should worry that the formula is going to be changed in such a big way as Coke did it with New Coke.

Bond. Will Survive.

Classic Coke, Classic Bond.