The Lowdown: Rum Wars Intensify, Federer Promotes Champagne

Bacardi Targets Diageo's Captain Morgan In New Campaign

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The Lowdown is Ad Age's weekly look at news nuggets from across the world of marketing, including trends, campaign tidbits, executive comings and goings and more.

Bacardi Ad
Bacardi Ad Credit: Bacardi

Bacardi is gunning for the captain, as in Diageo's Captain Morgan rum. In an aggressive new comparison campaign, Bacardi Oakheart Spiced Rum is running ads encouraging drinkers to "bench the captain." The campaign -- which will run on digital, social, radio and out-of-home -- is backed by a national taste test that Bacardi says shows that "consumers prefer the taste of Oakheart Spiced Rum over Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum by a statistically significant margin." The campaign is by Omnicom's BBDO and OMD. A Captain Morgan spokesman fired back: "As the great tasting original spiced rum, competitors have been taking shots at the Captain for years, but his preference is that shots be taken while having fun out with friends. Clearly the bang of Captain Morgan's new Cannon Blast has raised some worries from the competition."

Cannon Blast is a new line-extension geared for shots that comes in a cannonball-shaped bottle. Captain Morgan is the nation's top rum with 34% share, compared with 31% for Bacardi, according to IRI data for the 52 weeks ending Sept. 6. Bacardi's ads follow a campaign for the main brand that launched in October including a "House Party Tour" that involves bringing a mobile house to Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Miami.

Johnsonville's 'Sausage Nonnas'
Johnsonville's 'Sausage Nonnas' Credit: Johnsonville

Sausage-maker Johnsonville is also including a mobile house in its marketing. In an activation led by Droga5, the marketer had three Italian grandmas (aka the "Sausage Nonnas"), each in a tiny house hauled by Uber, deliver their sausage specialties around Chicago for Sunday dinner. The "Sausage Nonnas" push marked the first collaboration between Johnsonville and Uber. Droga5 said more than 100 meals were delivered, and while the Johnsonville agency couldn't say what city might see the Nonnas next, it said Johnsonville isn't ruling out another Sausage Sunday.

Onto the world of more luxurious Italian goods -- like premium handbags: After unveiling a flagship on Manhattan's gilded Fifth Avenue in September, Bologna-based Furla announced this week it has appointed a new CEO of the Americas. Scott Link, a retail veteran who has worked at Gap and Polo Ralph Lauren, began his new role on Nov. 2. And he's starting on a high note: The luxury handbag label, which has been family-owned since its 1927 founding, logged a 28% gain in U.S. sales for the first half of 2015. The country accounted for 9% of the brand's $162 million revenue for the period.

Furla did not make Oprah's Favorite Things list this year, but Amazon's voice-powered device Echo did, and consumers can buy one in physical stores for the first time. Amazon will sell Echo at more than 3,000 retailers like Home Depot, Sears and Staples, among others. Users can search for recipes, stream music or news, create shopping lists or ask questions like, "Who powers Echo's search function, Alexa?" (Microsoft's Bing) all via voice command. It also acts as a hub for other connected devices, allowing consumers to dim lights or turn on the heater without lifting a finger. The Echo retails for $179.

Oreo special package
Oreo special package Credit: Mondelez International, Inc.

Last week Lowdown described how Barnes & Noble was tapping into the adult coloring book trend. Now, Oreo is at it, too. The cookie brand on Monday launched a new program allowing people to go online and customize a package of Oreos. The special packaging taps into the adult coloring trend by featuring designs by Jeremyville and Timothy Goodman that people can pick from, personalize and color online or with markers sent with the cookies. The packages are more for gift-giving than pantry-filling, at a cost of about $15 per pack of 36 cookies, including shipping. The Mondelez International brand is also selling t-shirts with some of the designs that can be colored with fabric markers.

Taco Bell's online marketing has taken a new turn with an emoji-fueled program. Each time someone tweets @tacobell with the taco emoji paired with another emoji, they get a response with a GIF, illustration or photo. Someone who tweets the taco emoji and fingernails, for example, might get a picture of fingers decorated with tacos. Deutsch LA worked on Taco Bell's emoji enginee, which includes 600 pieces of content. In restaurants, the chain is dishing out Doritos Locos Tacos in four new holsters that feature the taco emoji. Fox ADHD helped in the content creation and Edelman for public relations.

Back to booze news, champagne marketer Moët & Chandon has launched a new campaign called "The Now," which includes tennis star Roger Federer. "Life is happening right now, all around us. 'The Now' is about seizing these moments and having no regrets," said Arnaud de Saignes, international director of marketing and communications for Moët & Chandon. The concept for the video below came from French creative collective We Are From LA.

Catching up on some key executive moves: James Moorhead, former CMO at Dish Network and senior marketer at Procter & Gamble, has joined Metromile as CMO. The company's services include pay-per-mile car insurance. Meanwhile, MetLife announced that Carlos Fonseca has joined the company as senior VP and head of its science of marketing department. Mr. Fonseca will report to Esther Lee, MetLife's global CMO. Finally, Mattell has hired former General Mills exec Juliana Chugg as global core brands officer, where she will "oversee all aspects of marketing strategy, creative execution and product development across Mattel's iconic brands," according to the company. Hat tip to the Pickens Report, by executive search firm Pickens & Company, which noted the Moorhead and Chugg hires in a recent newsletter.

Contributing: E.J. Schultz, Jessica Wohl, George Slefo, Adrianne Pasquarelli

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