Can Bacardi take its rum back to the party? - Analysis

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Four months into its new marketing structure and Bacardi hits the world with a new global campaign for its namesake rum brand.

Global VP for Bacardi, Fabio Di Giammarco, who is just ten weeks into his new job, is spearheading the next phase of the ‘Untameable’ activation, but don’t expect too many tales of heritage and provenance - Bacardi is back to being a party animal.

The first mention of 'Untameable' was back in November 2013. The central ad featured snapshots from the history of the Bacardi family, which started the company in 1862, such as natural disasters, the Cuban revolution and exile to the US. The concept followed the pattern of heritage and provenance that has been adopted by many brands - and not just in the drinks world. It also came under scrutiny from pundits and former employees.

The marketing activity came against a backdrop of declining volumes: According to The IWSR, in 2013, brand Bacardi posted a 2.7% dip in annual case volumes against 2012, coming in at 18.23m cases.

In an interview with just-drinks, Di Giammarco described the new campaign as moving the brand “back to (its) party roots”. 

Responding to the consumer, rather than responding to criticism, had been part of the company’s plan with the new creative, he said, noting also that the ad's “investment and touch-points” were “unprecedented in recent times” for Bacardi. Naturally, Di Giammarco declined to talk numbers. 

“We want to talk very directly to - and start establishing dialogue with - our consumer target of LDA to 25,” said Di Giammarco. “We’ve been telling them about our history, which is very important to us, but for us now it was extremely relevant to put the brand in the context of an occasion that is exciting … and relevant for consumption."

He continued to say that the time is right to “...associate the brand back to party, back to millennial consumption…”.

More importantly, perhaps, this is Bacardi's big move to re-establish itself as a leader in the rum category. Di Giammarco talked about ingraining the company's brands into the lifestyle of consumers, as well as going after specific drinking occasions, such as the house party. He outlined a “clear ambition” for a brand that is “reclaiming leadership… acting as a leader”.

He also talked about establishing a "dialogue and not a monologue" with consumers, hence the use of many touch-points, including social media. 

Di Giammarco was quick to assure that the house party concept used in the ad doesn't mean Bacardi is settling for just the off-premise - occasion-based marketing is to feature both the house party and the big night out.

“You will see communication going after those two specific occasions.”

The look and feel of the ad is supposed to replicate how LDA to 25-year-olds see the world - though phones, GoPro cameras and the like, and so it doesn’t have the high-gloss finish of some of the company's old ads. In the marketing material, the company refers to the style of advert as a "trailer of sorts" into the brand world. 

Interestingly, the ad doesn't mention the word rum or the struggle of the Bacardi family. Di Giammarco described the creative as a “piece of the whole puzzle”. He said there will still be "touch-points" with consumers that feature the message of rum and of the history.

Highlighting the 'untameable' message, he said: “We remain true to that - an untameable group of people decide to have the party of their lives… .”

While the campaign starts in the US today, the company described the push as being "a global approach to occasions". “Don’t be surprised if you see the house popping up in other markets," he added. “It is the first piece produced since we’ve taken this new approach to marketing…. the intention to go after occasions is part of our new plan.”

Di Giammarco finished by saying the campaign marked “an exciting moment for the company” adding that recent changes in the way its marketing department works had made it more efficient.

While this may be pretty efficient of the company, to turn around a campaign in such a short space of time, the hope for Bacardi is that the party is just about to (re)start.

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