Bacardi CMO John Burke On Recapturing Experiential Marketing (And Fun)

Bacardi CMO John Burke has been in lockdown at his home in London for the past two months.

And his challenge is to figure out how to bring people together to relax and enjoy a drink … when people can’t gather together or, seemingly, relax.

There are opportunities to reach consumers and be a part of social engagement, John says. “Instead of going out to a bar, maybe you pour yourself a drink and jump on a Zoom call.”

But the biggest shift comes from trying to stick with consumers as people around the world radically reshape how they shop (and drink, actually).

Bacardi has seen a huge swing from bulk distribution deals with bars, restaurants, cruise lines, stadiums and hotels – to ecommerce and local delivery.

Bacardi was already “on a journey” to build a stronger ecommerce business, John says. And it’s even more important now as consumer habits change on a dime and as Bacardi’s real-world marketing efforts move online (like hosting online mixology classes, a virtual art studio and a two-week live-streamed music festival in India).

Bacardi has tried things on social media and has partnered with artists to recreate an experiential element. But that means engaging with all senses, John says – sight, sound, smell, taste and feel.

“There’s nothing like being there in a festival field and sipping on a Bacardi and rum and listening to some of the greatest musical works.”

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