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Bacardi Reunites With Three Agency Execs for U.S Rum Relaunch

First Campaign Being Shot by Jake Scott, Director of Budweiser Super Bowl Ad

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Bacardi USA, which last year ended its relationship with WPP's Johannes Leonardo, New York, is turning to three familiar agency veterans to help reposition its flagship rum brand in the U.S., Ad Age has learned.

Jeff Weiss and Paul Opperman, who about a year ago formed a boutique shop called OW, will oversee brand strategic and creative duties along with Daley Strategic Advisors, which is run by Lee Daley, a former chief strategy officer at McCann Erickson Worldwide. The three men worked on the brand in Europe and Mexico several years ago while at a McCann-Erickson Worldwide boutique shop called Amster Yard.

The rum assignment comes months after OW and Daley Strategic Advisory won Bacardi's Dewar's Scotch business in the U.S., for which they launched a campaign called"The Drinking Man's Scotch."

The Bacardi brand spent $16.2 million on measured media in the U.S. in 2011, the last full-year available according to Kantar Media. Globally, parent company Bacardi Limited dedicated most of its advertising last year to a campaign celebrating its 150th anniversary, which included TV spots evoking the 1950s-era heyday of Bacardi rum. "We are going to be doing something significantly different to relaunch the brand in the U.S," Mr. Daley said. Lately there is "huge amounts of innovation in rum" and a "massive amount of competition," he said. "It's a highly segmented market," he added. "Bacardi is still the No. 1 brand and we are trying to make sure it stays that way."

One brand that has gained ground is Diageo's Captain Morgan, whose global sales of 9-litre cases grew by 2.2% in 2011, compared with Bacardi's 1.5% growth, according to a 2011 rankingof spirits brands by Drinks International and Euromonitor International.

The first campaign under OW and Daley Strategic Advisors is being shot in South America by director Jake Scott, who recently directed Budweiser's well-received Clydesdales Super Bowl ad. The assignment is a significant pickup for OW, which has a dozen employees. Bacardi "just wanted great work and [in] today's age you don't need size you need ... guys that really understand brands and really love the work and know how to create and know how to produce," Mr. Weiss said.

In a joint statement, OW and Daley said they were "reigniting their 20-year relationship" with Robert Furniss-Roe, president of Bacardi USA; Juan Rovira, chief marketing officer of Bacardi USA; and Dmitry Ivanov, who was recently named Bacardi's senior global category director of rums.

Amster Yard, which formed in the early 1990s, merged into Interpublic Group's Momentum agency in 2005, where Mr. Weiss and Mr. Opperman for a while continued to work on Bacardi brands Martini and Bombay Sapphire.

Mr. Daley's resume includes a stint as CEO of the U.K. office of Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi. He was group commercial director of soccer team Manchester United before he was lured back to McCann. He left McCann in 2011, penning a lengthy resignation letter in which he said he had not "done as much front-line new business as I would have liked." He launched his consultancy about 14 months ago.

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