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How to live and let drive

Plant: As well as Martinis, Caterpillar equipment is shaken, not stirred in the latest Bond extravaganza.

AMONG the excited youngsters at the preview of the James Bond film, The World Is Not Enough , were a handful of adults paying particularly close attention.

These sharp-eyed spectators, cradling stopwatches instead of popcorn, were marketing men and women charged with counting the amount of screen time given to their merchandise.

They represented a diverse range of brands, from BMWs to Omega watches.

At the screening was Caterpillar marketing consultant Bob Woodley, who was monitoring the first high-prof ile appearance of a construction equipment brand in a Bond movie.

In the film, Cat excavators, loaders and skidsteers are seen building an oil pipeline, part of a dastardly plot to divert Europe's oil supplies.

For Mr Woodley, the screen appearance of the machines was the culmination of a huge logistical exercise involving the shipping of 15 construction machines and the same number of personnel to Spain for three days' shooting. The contract was signed only the day before the machines left UK dealer Finning's premises.

Caterpillar products are on screen for not much more than a minute and a half.

But this is the world of product placement, where the impact has little relation to actual screen time ( see below ).

Caterpillar's big screen break started back in November 1998, when Mr Woodley got wind of the fact that the film's producer, Eon Productions, was looking for construction equipment.

He explained to the company what Caterpillar could provide and picked the brains of specialists at vehicle logistics firm Action Vehicles, which was overseeing all the 50 or so machines on site.

'The company talked us through a typical Bond film and told us what would be expected. After that, we had about three months of discussions with Eon, which needed precise information for the models.'

The models in question were one-eighth scale reproductions of the Cat equipment.This being a Bond movie, the pipeline was inevitably going to be destroyed, so it was economic to build the complete pipeline site in miniature. So when you see the camera sweeping down over the site, remember all is not as it appears.

The shoot for the pipeline scene took place in Cuenca, eastern Spain. About 400 people were on site at peak; among them 15 Caterpillar personnel, presided over by location manager Bob Brice. To drive the machines, Cat drafted in several of the contestants from its European Operator Challenge, including UK heat winners Jude Mullin and Adrian Cann.

of the whole three-day shoot, what remains in the final print is a few short scenes of the pipeline site. As Bond girl Elektra King (Sophie Marceau) visits the construction company she owns, we see a bustling site, showing a range of Cat equipment from dozers to wheeled loaders, along with machines from the firm's Forest Products division.

The camera sweeps in on the site workers and suddenly the Cat logo is everywhere - on caps, on workwear, on oil barrels (supplied by Cat's oil division) and of course on the machines themselves. As the camera focuses on Bond and Elektra King, a 950G wheeled loader can be seen in the background and the new 226 skidsteer whizzes across the screen.

Mr Woodley is very pleased at the exposure for the Caterpillar brand, especially considering that this was Cat's first venture into movies.

'I'm very happy with it,' he says. 'I think it is the best Bond film yet and it shows Cat equipment in real-lif e situations - and millions of people will be watching it worldwide.'

And Mr Woodley's happy with the exposure: 'The stopwatch showed got one minute of logo time, which is as least as much as the likes of BMW and Visa.'

And - although viewers may not notice this detail - Bond heroine Denise Richards wears a pair of Cat boots.

The involvement with the film-making process proved a memorable experience.

He says: 'You never had the feeling that anything was too much effort for the production team. if you could bring these people into the building industry it would make a real dif ference!'

Following this debut, Cat's movie connection is set to grow. Mr Woodley has struck a deal for Cat to feature in the next Hugh Grant film, The Little Vampire , which premieres in June: 'And we hope to be in every Bond film from now on.'