At Rusnak/Pasadena Jaguar, Tuesday's private pre-screening party for the new James Bond flick Spectre befitted a secret agent with expensive taste.
The Pasadena, Calif., dealership kicked off the evening with a cocktail reception featuring hors d'oeuvres for its VIP customers and prospects at the luxurious iPic movie theater, which offers a bevy of perks. After the lights dimmed, the attendees were served dinner and dessert in their reclining seats.
And if that wasn't enough pampering, guests could ask for pillows and blankets as they immersed themselves in one of 2015's most anticipated movies -- three days before today's official release in the U.S.
The universal appeal of the Bond franchise -- and the starring role afforded to the Jaguar C-X75 concept and modified versions of the Range Rover Sport SVR and Land Rover Defender -- allowed dealerships such as Rusnak Jaguar to use Spectre as a connection point to a broad range of customers.
"Everyone who I have asked, 'Do you watch James Bond?' [says,] 'Of course!'" said Sam Samaan, general manager of Rusnak Jaguar, which spent around $10,000 to cover food, tickets and souvenirs for the pre-screening party. "Our more mature customers have been watching them since the '60s. ... Four generations can watch the movie and be as excited about it."
Rusnak/Pasadena Jaguar is no stranger to grandiose events such as its Spectre screening. After all, this is a dealership that brought in two live jaguars to its store to mark the unveiling of the 2011 XJ sedan.
For the Spectre premiere, Samaan personally called and invited many of the nearly 100 people who attended the showing. The dealership also sent email invites, half of which drew affirmative RSVPs within an hour of being received.
The store's $10,000 investment bore fruit. The 2017 Jaguar XE sedan, which was stationed outside the theater with the 2016 XF sedan for exposure, drew immediate interest.
"Two people said put me on the list, we want XEs," Samaan said.
Rusnak/Pasadena Jaguar surprised four people at the screening party with $100 gift certificates to its accessory boutique and two others with weekend test drives of Jaguars of their choice. The winners found out through notifications taped to the bottoms of their seat tables.
Jaguar Land Rover Newport Beach followed a similar format with a cocktail reception followed by a Nov. 3 screening. The dealership, part of Pendragon North America Automotive, displayed a 2017 Jaguar XE at the gathering as well. The XE is Jaguar's new entry-level model, aimed at younger luxury customers.
Three other Pendragon Jaguar Land Rover stores in California had screenings this week in Viejo and West Hollywood. Around 600 people, mostly customers, were invited to the Pendragon showings, which cost between $7,000 and $10,000, said Valerie Valenzuela, marketing director for Pendragon North America.
Valenzuela said the screenings were a fun way to give back to customers without trying to sell them anything. "People seemed grateful and excited to be part of something that was pretty exclusive," Valenzuela said.
More than Jaguar and Land Rover, though, it's the Aston Martin brand that's most associated with the James Bond franchise. Deft Aston Martin engineering has kept Bond safe during heart-wrenching car chases for more than 50 years, with the gadget-laden DB5 first appearing in 1964's Goldfinger.
This time, it's the sleek DB10 concept that transports the hero. Aston Martin built the DB10 for the movie -- the first time it ever has made a car specifically for the Bond franchise.
In addition to having some Aston Martin dealerships host screenings, the company is sending the DB10 on a national tour, where it'll be displayed at U.S. dealerships after the movie's debut. The concept is already making its way through Aston Martin dealerships overseas on a tour in the United Kingdom.
"Bond and Aston Martin are synonymous with each other," said Matthew Clarke, Aston Martin's North America spokesperson.
He said: "There undoubtedly are markets in the world that perhaps wouldn't know about Aston Martin if it wasn't for the Bond relationship."