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Riding the public's taste for imported beers and all things Cuban, Bacardi-Martini USA has turned Hatuey into a 150,000-case brew since launching it in 1995.

After focusing initial efforts on older Cuban immigrants who remember Hatuey as the best-selling beer in prerevolutionary Cuba, the spirits marketer hopes to build volume by pitching to second-generation Cuban-Americans in the brand's South Florida markets.

"We're moving from a heavy Cuban heritage approach to a more contemporary, regional approach," says Celio Roman-ach, senior marketing manager for Bacardi.

For example, Bacardi now is running an English-language outdoor, print and radio campaign with the tag, "Just ask for the Indian," playing off the brew's logo. Previous advertising had been Spanish-language, and a Spanish radio component still will run. Zubi Advertising, Coral Gables, Fla., handles the Florida-focused effort.

This repositioning is just the latest for a brand that has gone through several improbable mutations. The Bacardi family produced Hatuey in Cuba before the 1959 Communist revolution.

In 1995, the marketer noted the surging popularity of imports as well as that of cigar bars and Cuban restaurants.

The time was right for a Cuban beer, but that would be impossible, given the 40-year-old U.S. trade sanctions. So the marketer decided to do the next best thing: Brew a traditional Cuban beer in Tampa.

While the brand does most of its business in Florida, it is available in 13 other states.

Citing the popularity of Caribbean brews like Jamaica's Red Stripe and the Dominican Republic's Presidente, Mr. Romanach is hopeful a faux import can blossom.

"It's a beer that has a taste richer than a domestic but lighter than the European imports," he says.

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