Bacardi Flips Traditional Ad Formula

NEW YORK Flipping the traditional ad formula, a new Bacardi spot is focusing more on the “Drink responsibly” message than pure branding.

The spot, dubbed “Whatever Your Reason,” inverts classic liquor ads that play up sex and chic with a responsibility kicker. It incorporates consumer ruminations on their “reasons” for drinking responsibly, with the familiar fruit bat logo only briefly appearing at the ad’s conclusion. The spot began its national cable network run earlier this month.

“It’s a different approach from what we’ve done before with Bacardi,” Darren Moran, group creative director at Young & Rubicam, New York, which produced the spot, told Brandweek. “We wanted to be true to the ‘Drink responsibly’ message and not use it as a way to oversell our product. We wanted to approach it from an altruistic standpoint.”

And while there are other, more familiar branded spots running concurrently, “Whatever Your Reason” isn’t a simple one-off. The company plans to keep the ad in rotation for the next 12 months, increasing its frequency across a variety of cable networks during the holidays, with an emphasis on New Year’s Eve promotions, according to Joe Metevier, brand director for Bacardi USA.

“We hope that [consumers] appreciate Bacardi, but the main point of the spot was getting the [responsibility] message across, regardless of from whom it comes,” said Metevier. “It’s not meant to be a brand spot, but rather it’s about the message … This is the beginning of a big initiative and continuation of our long-standing devotion to responsibility. [It represents] a good percentage of our total media weight.”

The spot also gets some digital play on the company’s Web site, where viewers can add their own reasons for drinking responsibly. Metevier said those user-generated additions could eventually produce an update to the campaign. Banner ads will also run on various Web sites.

While the company would not disclose its campaign budget, the total ad spend in 2006 was $38 million, and the brand has already spent $6 million in advertising through April of this year, per Nielsen-Monitor Plus.