Earlier this month, Bacardi signed a one-year "multi-faceted" marketing agreement with UK dance act Groove Armada. The announcement made headlines, with some commentators suggesting the deal was another nail in the coffin of record labels. In this month's just the answer, we talk to Bacardi's global experiential marketing manager, Sarah Tinsley, to get the low-down on what has been hailed by some as the next step in the drinks/music industry relationship.

just-drinks: How does the agreement between Bacardi and Groove Armada actually work?

Tinsley: The deal has three component parts. Firstly, Groove Armada are obliged to provide four exclusive tracks for Bacardi. Secondly, they'll integrate into our 'B-Live' music programme in the coming year, where they will perform their live gigs and DJ sets. Finally, we're looking at generating some engaging lifestyle, rather than performance, content with the band.

It's quite a bold move for Bacardi, in that it's a departure from traditional partnerships. We were really looking to extend our relationship with music, and we decided Groove Armada would be the perfect brand fit.

j-d: What prompted this kind of agreement?

Tinsley: It was really a desire to do something innovative and different, something that would grab people's attention. We saw it as the only way to stand out from what our competitors are doing. I think, currently, the relationship that drinks brands have with artists is quite a shallow one. The artist turns up, performs, then gets on their tour bus and goes and performs at another drinks brand's gig down the road. What we really wanted to do was to create a deeper and longer relationship with an artist, which would enable us to communicate with our audience on a deeper, more engaging level.

j-d: What about the numbers? How much will Groove Armada get from Bacardi?

Tinsley: It would be crude to discuss figures, to be honest! They won't starve, but what we're asking them to do is a huge commitment. The sum of the deal reflects that.

j-d: So, do you see this as the end for record labels?

Tinsley: I don't think it replaces the record deal; it's more a viable alternative. For too long, record majors have failed to really provide an alternative to the traditional model. It was fortuitous for us that Groove Armada had recently come out of their deal with Sony-BMG. This deal just provides a lot more flexibility - there aren't any rights restrictions - and it enables us to produce content on brand and lets us dedicate the time to what the deal demands. If they're tied to a record label, they wouldn't be able to deliver that. So it's an alternative model, but I don't think it's going to replace it. It's just something that I think is really viable and will hopefully set the standard going forward.

j-d: How concerned are you about charges of appealing to too young an audience through music?

Tinsley: We have to be a little bit more cautious as a drinks brand to ensure that we're corporate and social responsibility compliant. It was important that we had an artist that deals to a slightly more mature demographic. The average age of Groove Armada's audience is 25, which is the ideal target market for Bacardi.

We've done extensive research to ensure that Groove Armada appeals to a 70%-plus LDA [legal drinking age] target audience. We've been really thorough, using record label data via their own online portal, data from ticket sales and independent data.

j-d: Is this kind of agreement the shape of things to come for drinks brand/music tie-ups in the future?

Tinsley: Hopefully this is the model that other brands will follow. I think it's bold and innovative. As all brands aim to get a closer relationship with their target market, as opposed to constantly trying to deliver one-way communication via traditional advertising, I think this kind of model enables and facilitates that. Going forward, I think this is something that most brands will look to do.