Over the holidays, Bacardi USA wrapped its entire portfolio into one two-month program, “Mix & Share,” using powerhouse brands like Bacardi Rum and Grey Goose Vodka to pull along lesser-known brands like Seven Tiki Rum.
On Facebook, people could “mix & share” cocktails with friends, not only to virally expand the campaign, but for each cocktail mixed and shared $1 was donated to the USO. Experiential events used the iPad and in print, an extensive partnership with “Food & Wine” magazine included a seven-page spread and a 24-page entertaining guide. (Read the full details of the promotion)
Robert Bernstein, the vice president of trade marketing and marketing services for Bacardi USA, offered a follow-up look at the program.
PROMO: What was your goal for the “Mix & Share” program?
BERNSTEIN: We tried to create a portfolio approach that was at the heart of consumer needs during the busy holiday season that would help us create multiple bottle sales for the Bacardi portfolio.
PROMO: How was this program different than past holiday campaigns?
BERNSTEIN: This year, we took a step back, and looked at consumer needs and insights to build a more integrated [campaign]. We really looked at how could we build a program from a portfolio perspective based on consumer shifts in needs during the holidays. Everyone is looking for value, but we wanted to also provide them with a lot more than monetary discounts by offer entertaining tips.
PROMO: What is your view of social media?
BERNSTEIN: It’s here. It is how consumers are connecting and interacting with each other [today]. And social media is becoming more and more prominent in the way marketers need to look at how they connect and interact with consumers. It is going to become integral across all consumer products.
PROMO: How do you determine the ROI of Bacardi USA’s use of social media?
BERNSTEIN: We have seen our business starting to really improve over the holidays. We see an increase in the number of fans sharing cocktail recipes. This indicates an affinity toward our brand and will ultimately reflect in increased sales volume. It is a means by which you can really see and measure the number of consumers that interact with your brand versus other more traditional media where there are numbers you can measure, but it’s not as exact a science as social media.
PROMO: You tested the use of the iPad as a promotional component. How is that working?
BERNSTEIN: We are very happy with the iPad application that we are using in store in about 15 markets around the county. The iPad was an integral part of expanding this program and having hundreds of promotional people in off-premise outlets working directly with consumers. Consumers can generate a shopping list based on what drinks they choose. The iPad to us is the next generation of directly interacting with the consumer at point-of-purchase and providing a direct link to the consumer at that moment of truth when they are making decisions about holiday shopping.
PROMO: How are you measuring the ROI of your iPad promotions?
BERNSTEIN: We get reports on a weekly basis that tell us how many consumers have interacted with the iPad promotional model, whether it’s downloading a shopping list or immediately sending a rebate to the redemption house so we’ve provided a lot more immediate gratification. We know how many bottles will be sold through the mail-in rebate, so we’ve got data right away that we read from the iPad.
PROMO: Do you make real-time adjustments based on that data?
BERNSTEIN: Quite a bit of development went into the iPad application, and we haven’t found that we’ve needed to make any adjustments. We’re capturing all the right information and can transmit information rapidly. We’ll take what we learn as we start planning to use the iPad for the portfolio programs for next summer.
PROMO: Have you tested QR codes?
BERNSTEIN: We have experimented with tags with some of our brands. It has gained traction in print, but the numbers that we see and the studies on the use of QR codes are not really showing any particular traction at retail. It’s going to come, but we’ve got a ways to go.
PROMO: Of all the credible food magazines on the market, why did you choose “Food & Wine” as a partner?
BERNSTEIN: We sat down and briefed our media-buying agency, KSL Media, and asked them to go out and challenge the books in this category. They came back with the best value for us in terms of what was generated with “Food & Wine,” It started with first seven pages in the magazine: you can’t get much more front and center than that, reaching almost a million customers. It has 62,000 Facebook fans that we are able to connect with and we know that (celebrity chef and “Top Chef” judge) Gail Simmons is a very well recognized personality and would help mix with our brands and she has 40,000 followers on her twitter page. It all worked together to help us build what we really feel is an extremely powerful message during this all important holiday period.
PROMO: Have you adjusted your marketing budget to move more funds into digital and or social/mobile marketing?
BERNSTEIN: It’s definitely an area that we will see an increase over the coming year. I think that all marketers realize that it’s becoming a much more important way to connect with consumers.
PROMO: What do you see as the biggest challenge marketers will face in 2011?
BERNSTEIN: It’s no secret that it’s been a challenging time over the last couple of years as we’ve all seen a softness in our businesses. But the biggest challenge is to continue to try to build brand equity after two years that have been driven by an awful lot of promotional pricing at retail. We need to stay relevant and we’ll slowly start to see that the industry as a whole start to grow.
PROMO: What is your favorite Bacardi USA holiday cocktail?
BERNSTEIN: My favorite is the Disarrono Expresso Martini cocktail, It’s a hot drink that combines Grey Goose with Disarrono and a little bit of coffee and cream. The holidays are the one time of the year when I really enjoy warm drinks.