The virtual endgame of Bacardi’s cocktail kits campaign 

Like others, the spirits/alcohol industry has witnessed its own share of COVID-induced disruption. On-premise socialising (bars, restaurants etc.) is usually at the core of alcohol marketing so when the coronavirus pandemic hit last year, the lockdown that followed stopped consumers from visiting these locations in an attempt to mitigate the spread of the virus. 

One of the world’s largest privately-held spirits companies, Bacardi, though, has been responding to these dramatic changes by leaning into marketing initiatives to stay ahead of the curve. Just recently, the brand dispatched frozen cocktails in a short-lived experiential campaign in London’s Observation Point, South Bank, giving passers-by the opportunity to sample the brand’s Coconut Rumstar Colada and Raspberry Red Berry flavours. These variants are also created as cocktail kits which attendees can win and take home.

The kits, made in collaboration with Poptails by Lapp, can be found online for purchase. While lockdown intervals have somewhat desensitized people to coronavirus, and with vaccinations becoming an increasingly popular safeguard, Bacardi is taking advantage of the final lap of summer by meeting its consumers in the open. What’s not to love about drinking frozen cocktails in the heat? In a time where some businesses may not consider out-of-home advertising, Bacardi is boldly pushing out two new limited-edition flavours of cocktail kits.

“With many Brits staycationing in the UK this summer, August will finally bring us some much deserved-heat and how better to celebrate than with a frozen cocktail,” Marie Peyto, brand director for Bacardi Rum UK said, ”After partnering with key bars across the UK to bring delicious frozen cocktails to the public, we wanted to create a way for people to also enjoy at home with Bacardi Rum just in time for summer’s hot finale. Now anyone can create bar-quality frozen drinks in their own kitchen with out new Frozen Cocktail Kits in partnership with Lapp – complete with new eye-catching Bacardi Coconut and Raspberry bottles that are perfect for summer entertaining.”

On Bacardi’s billboard-style experiential pop-up stand, it reads, ‘’What’s your flavour?,’’ co-opting the zeitgeist of Craig David’s 2002 song title ‘’What’s Your Flava?’’ as a marketing flourish. The Raspberry and Coconut flavours come after the introduction of Bacardi Tropical last month, a variant inspired by the Carribeans that boasts notes of juicy pineapple, creamy coconut and sweet guava. Although the physical activation has ended, making these products available online is only showing Barcadi’s continuity in branding itself in the digital environment. 

Early phases of the pandemic had seen Bacardi responding swiftly, consolidating its e-commerce presence. It did this in many ways: partnering with Amazon for a whiskey tasting live-stream event, hosting virtual masterclasses to teach people how to make a range of Bacardi cocktail products, collaborating with bars on Instagram, and also working with multiple online retailers to deliver ready-to-drink cocktails for consumers such as Bombay Sapphire, Bacardi Mojito, and Bacardi Lime and Soda. 

While for some other spirit brands, pivoting online was a way to keep the business afloat, Bacardi saw an avenue to get closer to consumers and to understand their drinking habits. Aside from providing them with new and fun solutions to make drinks at home, the brand also got to know which of their portfolio products they were drinking the most during lockdown. It achieved this by starting a weekly newsletter, giving updates on how they are navigating the pandemic, cocktail recipes to try out and so on. 

Converging virtually for drinks with friends isn’t exactly a new trend, but this became a consumer behaviour during the pandemic as people brought the bar home. Lockdown has accelerated an educational shift in the way people buy spirits online. 

”The pandemic and post-pandemic period has shown that there is a significant increase in consumers making purchase decisions based on the engagement they have with brands on the digital space.” says Lawal Tolu, a digital strategist and growth product manager. ”As more and more consumers embrace the habit of being “home-bodies”; the influence of physical conversions has relatively decreased in comparison to the impact of digital conversions. Bacardi seems to have taken advantage of that insight, by rolling out several creative digital activations and engagement tactics within this period.”

”A stand-out approach for me, has been the Bacardi’s recipe app called Mix Lab. It offered customised suggestions of 300+ recipes, video tutorials from professional bartenders, in-app purchases and many more features. It’s shopping feature was executed in partnership with an e-commerce solution firm known as Thirstie. A direct connection and engagement was made with consumers via this app, and data which comprised of consumer’s taste preferences and behaviours was generated from this platform. Marketing trends are evolving, and it’s interesting to watch the smartest brands seamlessly move with the tide.”

This particular activation has worked to show to consumers that they can buy Bacardi cocktails and spirits online and have them delivered to their door, whether it’s purchasing spirits via platforms like Amazon, Drizly, or from supermarket delivery service. This knowledge is now fixed across markets and there’s an expectation that this consumer habit will continue this way, purchasing spirits. As markets open, though, it presents more opportunities for people to return to bars and restaurants and enjoy their favourite Bacardi rum. 


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