Bacardi’s ‘Island’ Push Unifies Global Messaging

In an attempt to get back to its roots and unify the brand message globally, Bacardi this week is breaking a campaign presenting the rum as the centerpiece of a Latin-tinged party.

The first ad in the campaign, via Young & Rubicam, London, underscores the theme by showing a bunch of partying twentysomethings on boats. As each of them throws big rocks into the water, they construct an island, which becomes the center of a fiesta. Monsell Darville, vp and managing director of Bacardi rums, said this will be the first time Bacardi will run a unified global message. “It’s really a campaign that taps into a single Bacardi DNA,” he said. “There’s an intimacy, a uniqueness to the brand that makes it very special.” The campaign also includes iPhone/iPod downloads, Twitter campaigns, plus placement on YouTube and Facebook.

Darville also said Bacardi intends to double its holiday spending this year. Though he declined to be specific, the brand spent $27 million on measured media in 2008, down from $52 million in 2007, per the Nielsen Co., which doesn’t measure Internet advertising spending. Through July this year, Bacardi spent $18 million.

Young & Rubicam won the global Bacardi account in 2005. Last September, the agency added Bacardi Flavors and Bacardi Gold Rum, which had previously been handled by Interpublic’s Momentum in New York.

The campaign comes as the rum category grew 2 percent in 2008, according to Impact. Bacardi’s share increased by the same amount that year, and Captain Morgan’s was up 3 percent. Darville said that “the economy has had an impact” on Bacardi, but he is encouraged by the launch of Dragon Berry back in April, becoming one of the first in the spirits category to embrace so-called superfruits. Nevertheless, while previous Bacardi holiday campaigns have promoted extensions, this latest campaign is a move back to promoting its flagship.

The campaign comes after Bacardi lost its CMO, Stella David, in July. David had been with the company for 15 years and is credited with the 1994 launch of the Bacardi Breezer, among other accomplishments. No successor has yet been named.