Nine Side Events Promote Celebrities and Brand Image

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In an effort to seamlessly integrate its brand into the glitzy MTV Video Music Awards without paying for stage presence, Bacardi took what
Attending the Bacardi CoCo and 'Stuff' magazine party in Miami were (L to R) video producer Dave Meyers, recording artists Christina Milan and Ludicris, and Jacob the Jeweler. Click to see larger photo.
Also at the party were former cast members from MTV’s 'The Real World' and 'Road Rules.' Click to see larger photo.

might be thought of as the stealth party-time approach.

Prime urban influencers

In a move aimed at reaching prime urban influencers, the spirits marketer sponsored nine different events surrounding the Aug. 22 show, ranging from a mansion party on Star Island near South Beach (with Stuff magazine and Virgin Mobile) to a "Rock the Vote" event at the French Connection store in New York. At all events bartenders served up mojitos made with the different flavors of Bacardi, said Josh Taekman, president of Buzztone Marketing, which staged the promotions.

Bacardi declined comment. Spending figures weren't disclosed.

More than 10,000 people attended the parties, Mr. Taekman said. Celebrities included Paris Hilton, the Olsen Twins, Owen Wilson, Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah and Ludacris, to name a few.

The parties "put the product in the hands of the right people," Mr. Taekman said.

Experiential marketing

Bacardi's effort fits into a long-running trend by distillers to employ experiential marketing strategies targeting trendsetters. This sort of intimate approach is one reason spirits have been able to grow faster than beer in recent years, industry observers said.

To ensure its rums were presented in the best light, Bacardi and Buzztone were intimately involved in the details of the party preparations. Bottles of flavored Bacardi went out with the invitations. The bartenders were educated on the Bacardi portfolio and how to make mojitos.

"We got involved from who was invited [to] how it was set up," Mr. Taekman said.

Sexy and sophisticated

Darrell Jursa, president of the consultancy Liquid Intelligence, said that aligning a spirit brand with hip-hop is old hat now but Bacardi's strategy to tie its brand into the sexy and sophisticated celebrities who are the heart of the MTV Video Music Awards was an effective one.

"It's what the brand is about," Mr. Jursa said.

Bacardi-flavored rums posted sales of 1.4 million cases in 2003, up 15%, according to figures from Databank.
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