This has been a special year for Bacardi. The Bermuda-based company has been celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2012. Here, Aridj Jaber from Spirit Hosting highlights how the firm used the occasion to push its brands in the travel retail channel.

Bacardi has been a fixture of the global spirit market for 150 years. In a crowded and competitive marketplace, this is an impressive milestone, proving both the quality of the product and the popularity of the brand.

As part of its global 150th anniversary promotions during July and August, Bacardi launched a special air-side retail promotion at Amsterdam's Schipol airport The company opened a combined pop-up bar and retail site, allowing travellers passing through the airport to sample Bacardi and purchase the product.

Creating theatre

Traditional 'giveaway' style alcohol sampling in Dutch airports is illegal but, by creating a bespoke bar environment, brand ambassadors were on hand to provide expert information and tasting notes as passengers were served an 'Oak & Coke' for EUR5 (US$6.50). The pop-up bar was dedicated to Bacardi Oakheart Rum, a spiced variant of the brand, originally launched in 2011.

The bar was launched in the summer months to target young adult travellers passing through the airport on their holidays. Holidaymakers account for 75% of total Schipol passenger traffic during this period.

Looking as though it were constructed out of driftwood, the Oakheart Bar was designed to evoke a typical beach bar environment complete with surf-board style seating and table football. Visitors to the bar could also use iPads installed in the bar and explore the official Bacardi Oakheart app.

Travellers passing through the terminal were guided to the bar with digital signage that appeared on flight information screens and floor stickers. The pop-up bar/shop also featured a Bacardi photo booth, where holidaymakers could have a picture taken with their friends against a variety of themed backdrops, creating a party atmosphere as they started their holidays. These photos were displayed on a Bacardi '150 years of parties' picture feed, and could be shared on different social networks.

In-store competition

Extensive branding was installed within the alcohol department at one of the main stores in the Schipol departure lounge. This included a 10-foot tall Bacardi bat, complemented by celebratory images for the 150th anniversary. Sales promotions included 'Brotherhood of the Bat' t-shirt offers and limited edition, 150th anniversary decanters of rum blended by the eight master blenders of the Bacardi family. A brand ambassador also provided information and assistance around the installation.


The combination of media, retail and hospitality delivered tangible sales results for the company. Bacardi became the second most popular spirit at Schipol airport during July, behind Diageo's Johnnie Walker. In the specific lounges where the activity took place, Bacardi became the top selling brand.

Bacardi's Global Travel Retail trade marketing manager, Rob Milton, said: “The key for Bacardi is getting ‘liquid to lips’, and getting people to try the brand. We have pushed the boundaries with this project, and we’ll be aiming to do much more to engage travellers and add value to the brand, airport and retail partners in future.”

Since 1990, Spirit Hosting & Promotions has provided promotional staffing and hosting services for events. For further details on the company, click here.