Since its inception, Bacardi has used creative marketing strategies to garner international acclaim. The collaborative efforts of Bacardi founder Don Facundo Bacardi Massó and business partner Enrique Schueg placed the brand in the international spotlight early on in its history.
- Emerging on the World’s Stage
Less than 15 years after its founding in 1862, Bacardi showcased its products at the 1876 World’s Fair in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where the young company won a gold medal. It took home the gold once more after the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, where the brand used Cuban hardwood to build an elaborate display pavilion featuring a giant BACARDÍ rum bottle. Bacardi then went on to win the grand prize at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904. These early accolades positioned the Cuban brand as a leader in the international spirit industry, showcasing the enterprising and creative spirit that has attracted consumers for more than 150 years.
- A National Treasure
Bacardi’s close ties with Cuba helped the company develop a vibrant identity on the international stage while drumming up consumer engagement and brand loyalty at home. But for Bacardi, patriotism has always been far more than a promotional strategy—the family takes great pride in its Cuban heritage, and several of its members have played key roles in Cuba’s development, including its fight for independence.
Throughout the 1900s, Bacardi sponsored Cuban baseball teams and special events such as the Santiago de Cuba carnival. By the 1950s, the annual event had become intertwined with the beloved Cuban brand, which handed out prizes for neighborhood decorations and financed the yearly pageant to crown the Carnival Queen.
The majority of Bacardi’s early marketing materials display the brand’s patriotism and comradery with Cuba’s people. The company adopted the slogan, “El Que a Cuba Ha Hecho Famosa” (The One That Has Made Cuba Famous),” and in the 1940’s, advertisements for Bacardi were featured on the back of Havana tour guides. Other ads proudly proclaimed, “How lucky to be Cuban!” and in 1938, Bacardi invited partygoers to “Toast the New Year with the most famous Cuban product!”
- Celebrating Cuban Music
Bacardi’s relationship with music dates back to the 19th century, when the company hosted carnivals showcasing the best of the national music scene. Throughout the 1940s and 50s, the brand sponsored The BACARDÍ Hour on local Cuban radio station CMQ, featuring leading and emerging Cuban artists. Bacardi also presented a musical variety show entitled “De Fiesta con BACARDÍ” or “Partying with BACARDÍ,” as well as a Radio Progreso program featuring the Sonor Matancera orchestra and the “Queen of Salsa” herself, Celia Cruz.
Bacardi also hosted an annual Christmas radio show that provided a backdrop for the entire island’s celebrations well into the morning. The dance program’s ads urged listeners to “head to the bar and ask for a Cuba Libre for yourself—and one for your companion.”
Bacardi’s passion for Cuban music and dedication to its upcoming artists continued into the era of television and on into the internet age. Recently, the company launched, “BACARDÍ Loud & Untameable,” a three-part music series featuring artists Wale, Yerba Buena, White Denim, RDGLDGRN, and Future. The program streamed on the Bacardi Pandora station.
- Beating Prohibition
In 1919, the United States government ratified the Eighteenth Amendment, enacting Prohibition and creating a virtually “dry” society. Now barred from legally manufacturing, shipping, advertising, or selling alcohol in the states, Bacardi was faced with a challenge to maintaining its national consumer base. The company devised a creative strategy to keep Bacardi on American minds and attract more visitors to Cuba in the process. It designed Bacardi-themed postcards that displayed scenes of Cuba’s vibrant nightlife and distributed them to American tourists in Havana. Frequently mailed to friends and family members back home, these postcards illustrated the enduring spirit of Bacardi and the celebrations the brand fueled throughout Havana, inviting Prohibition-era Americans to party with Bacardi.
- Keeping the Party Going
As a brand that has endured for more than 150 years, Bacardi continues to find innovative ways to share its products and engage with an ever-evolving consumer base. In October 2015, the brand unveiled the BACARDÍ Untameable House Party Tour, launching the new campaign with a 30-second TV ad simply titled, “The Truck.” The spot features a group of friends having the time of their lives at a cross-country house party—an actual house positioned on the back of a flatbed truck. Along the way, the partiers welcome new friends and adventures, embodying the ad’s final tagline: “There’s nothing in the way.”
In addition to connecting with millennials via social media, Bacardi bolstered the campaign with real house parties in several US cities. Hosted in a truck-mounted house much like the one in the TV spot, the parties featured creative installations and performances from several top musicians. Bacardi hosted the first of its four celebrations in Philadelphia on the night of Halloween, and continued down the East Coast to Washington, DC; Atlanta; and Miami.
At its final stop, the BACARDÍ Untameable House Party convened with creative minds at the Art Basel festival. Bacardi’s presence at the Miami art show included a three-day party featuring the work of Swizz Beats, Alicia Keys, and Wiz Khalifa. Bacardi even hosted a non-commission art-fair for local creative minds, providing free exhibition space for emerging artists to promote their work. The BACARDÍ Untameable House Party Tour exemplifies the innovative and artistic spirit that has carried Bacardi through the decades, and it’s clear that the brand will continue to ensure that nothing gets in the way of a great party.