Last year a bartender in a London cocktail bar let John Burke, CMO and president of Bacardi Global Brands Limited, get behind the bar and shake some drinks for people during the first annual “Back to the Bar” initiative, which celebrates the company’s Founder’s Day.
“I even got a reorder,” he said. “This year I’m in Hamilton, Bermuda, so I’m sure I’ll have different experiences there.”
Bacardi’s “opportunity to build relationships” between about 7,000 employees with their customers and bartenders in 133 cities worldwide across 31 countries returns on February 7.
“It’s easy to get lost in the day job and forget who you’re serving,” he said. “This initiative is part of a broader initiative of looking out externally and listing to understand how to join their party, rather than ask them to come to ours. It’s about embedding our brands into their culture.”
Six Bacardi brands are mixed into classic cocktail recipes for the promotion such as Bacardi Cuba Libre, Martini & Rossi Negroni, Grey Goose Martini cocktail, Dewar’s High Ball, Patron Margarita, and Bombay Sapphire & Tonic.
“It’s a bit of a step into the unknown,” he said, adding that stepping out from the corporate environment and into the bars and pubs enables company employees who make and market the products to better understand its consumer likes and dislikes.
Last year’s “Back to the Bar” initiative generated about 1,000 posts on social media. This year Burke wants to see about 5,000. Those who participate are encouraged to share the photos with tags such as #BacktotheBar.
“Last year was a walk, this year is jog and next year a run,” he said.
Burke said it varies by brand, but some spend up to 80% of the marketing and advertising budgets on digital. Typically, he said, about half is spent on digital.
This year Bacardi is shifting away from traditional demographic targeting and more toward psychographics targeting using mindsets -- targeting consumers with a shared attitude and aspirations that resonate with each brand.
“It’s a big shift for us to put the consumers at the heart of the relationship,” he said.
As for new types of technology, Burke said, calling it a different language, Bacardi Global Brands Limited has been experimenting in voice search. The company also created Amazon Alexa skills that provide information on how to build cocktails and pair with foods.
Bacardi has also experimented with virtual reality and augmented reality, as well as the potential for a super-fast 5G, which “will become a game changer.”
“Consumers are adopting technology much faster than brands,” he said. “The gap that opens requires us to step in.”