James Bond will be shaking not stirring Finlandia

LONDON - James Bond has changed his face and his accent, and now he is set to change his vodka brand, as Finlandia takes over from Smirnoff in the latest 007 film.

Smirnoff has decided to end its product placement deal as it seeks to target 21- to 29-year-olds, rather than the 25- to 45-year-old men who habitually watch Bond films.

The brand has a long history with James Bond, being the vodka that was used to mix his first celluloid medium-dry vodka martini in the movie 'Dr No', starring Sean Connery. It has also been featured in the last three Bond outings.

Such product placement is important particularly in the US, where the advertising of hard liquor on television is not allowed. NBC ran a storm of flak after it tried to introduce spirits advertising.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Scott Reid, global marketing director for Finlandia, said: "This is an unbelievable coup for us."

In worldwide sales, Finalndia may trail only Absolut in terms of premium vodka brands, but it is not especially well known in the US.

'Die Another Day' will open worldwide on November 22, starring Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry. James Bond is credited with popularising the vodka martini, an idea developed by Bond author Ian Fleming, who developed a taste for vodka when he worked for British intelligence in Russia.

Visa International has also signed a deal to see its products featured in the film.

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