English translation small arms newsletter of the
German Campaign against small arms
June 2008

"Bad Company" and "Bad Boys": Heckler & Koch in Hollywood

von Roman Deckert

The German gun maker Heckler & Koch (H&K) intensifies a marketing strategy of product placement in movies and TV-series, a feature of the British TV-station Channel4 has found: "You canít advertise guns on TV, so what do you do?" According to that report the Oberndorf based company has increased its efforts to convince armourers in Hollywood of its newest models. Already in 2004, the then spokeswoman of H&K, Andrea Franke, confirmed to the Greenpeace magazine that the U.S. subsidiary of H&K closely cooperated with the movie makers.

While there is no secret that the owner of the German pistol producer Carl Walther travels himself to the movie sets of each James-Bond-sequel to hand over the PPK or lately the new P99 for 007, it is not known whether H&Kís owners Andreas Heeschen and Keith Ralston, who are both part of British High-Society anyway, do likewise. However, it is noteworthy that Bond defeats his adversary in "Casino Royal" (2006) with the submachine gun HK UMP which is used by many special police units in the US. The poster for the new film "Quantum of Solace", which is due to be released in November 2008, shows Bondís silhouette with H&Kís MP5 submachine gun (http://movierls.info/?p=9). And the expert on war cinema Peter Bürger points to the fact that Bondís opponent in "Die Another Day" (2002) uses an XM29, which H&K had developed for the US-Army.

Also, in the successful TV series "24", which has evidently inspired some US soldiers to torture, agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) and his colleagues use some current H&K weapons, the assault rifles G36 and HK416. According to www.hkpro.com a "civilian" version of the HK416, which is in service with the US armyís elite troops of the "Delta Forces", will enter the US market later this year. Therefore it hardly seems to be a coincidence that the HK416 plays a prominent role in the popular TV series "The Unit" and in the video games "Battlefield: Bad Company" and "Soldier of Fortune: Payback" too.

Similarly telling are the titles of the action movies in which the G36 or its "civilian" offspring SL8 are used: "Bad Boys II", "Miami Vice", "Collateral", "Mission: Impossible 3", "Live Free or Die Hard" etc. What the future could be like with the futuristic looking G36 is shown by the science-fiction genre in "Alien vs. Predator", "Resident Evil", "Terminator 3 ", "Matrix Reloaded", "Stargate SG1", "Shaun of the Dead", "V for Vendetta" and "Equilibrium".

The value of the brand H&K is certainly increased no less if celebrities in blockbuster productions shoot with older H&K weapons like the G3 assault rifle or the MP5 submachine guns. The "Internet Movie Firearms Data Base" (www.imfdb.org) lists the following Hollywood stars with G3-performances: Jamie Foxx in "The Kingdom", Val Kilmer in "Heat", Richard Gere in "The Jackal" and David Caruso in "CSI: Miami". The appearances of the MP5 are uncounted: Bruce Willis in "Die Hard", Mel Gibson in "Lethal Weapon", Samuel L. Jackson and LL Cool J in "S.W.A.T.", Kurt Russel in "Stargate", Keanu Reeves in "Matrix", Steven Seagal in "Under Siege", Ethan Hawk in "Lord of War", Mila Jovovich in "Resident Evil" and Brad Pitt as well as Angelina Jolie in "Mr. & Mrs. Smith".

According to Channel4´s author Chris Payne there is no evidence that H&K is also pursuing a strategy of product placement with gangster rappers. However, it is a fact that hip-hop super-stars like Jay-Z, Eminem, The Game and Notorious B.I.G., who himself was shot dead in 1997, glorify H&K guns in their songs. 50 Cent, who survived nine shot wounds in 2000, in his hit "Iíll still kill" makes clear: "The Heckler and Kochíll tear half of your ass off".


is a small arms researcher at the Berlin Information-Centre for Transatlantic Security (BITS) and a board-member of the Information-Office on Armor (RIB e.V.), Freiburg i.Br.