"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.