Digital MarketingWe continuously tuned in to our consumer needs and preferences, it helped...

We continuously tuned in to our consumer needs and preferences, it helped us maintain our human connect during the tough times: Zeenah Vilcassim, Bacardi India

  • Since liquors cannot advertise on traditional media, many have relied heavily on on-the-ground activities, comedy gigs, or musical performances to connect with their audiences.
  • Bacardi is one of the brands that has built a lot of them marketing About these live events in the past.
  • So how did the brand bring back calibration, once the pandemic spread? Zeina Filkasem, marketing manager, bacardi india Tell us.

With live events blatantly halted after the 2020 pandemic and the shutdown that followed, brands who relied on live events and on-the-ground activations needed a complete rethink. Marketing Strategies.

Bacardi is one of the brands that in the past relied heavily on live events and music shows. With the pandemic, the brand, like many others, has had to change the way it reaches consumers.

From the lively offline events, the brand has focused on offline events, adding innovation and technology to creativity virtual events They can have a similar effect as ancient physical events.

We talk to Zeenah Vilcassim, Director of Marketing, Bacardi India to understand how the brand has re-calibrated its marketing to remain relevant in this new world order and what its areas of focus are, to continue to be an important part of consumer life.


Q) How has the last 1.5 years been for you as a brand?

The past 1.5 years have not been easy for any of us but they have helped us refocus our priorities. As a family owned business, our priority during this challenging time has been, and remains, the health, safety and well-being of our employees and individuals within the communities in which we operate. When the pandemic first started, we supported the supply of disinfectants, and the production of 400,000 gallons through our local production facilities in India and around the world. While it looks like there may be light at the end of the tunnel, we know mental health issues can delay and hit you at any time, so we continue to support our boys (the Spanish word for cousin), and their families, with free access to confidential counseling, and an information service helpline. And the internal emergency helpline.

While this base was very important for us to support and cover, we also continued to try and innovate in marketing. Faced with the constraints of the pandemic and the rapid change in consumer behavior, we have had to rethink our marketing strategies and change the characteristics driving our brand at an equal pace. In many cases we had to completely rethink our marketing models but we had to more about that later…

Q) For a brand that relied so much on live events, how did you need to recalibrate and rethink your strategies? How did you communicate with consumers during the early months of the epidemic?

With safety our top priority, it was clear that live events were out of the question. Interestingly enough, consumer behavior has changed dramatically, and they have been eager to explore new ways and platforms for experiences. We explored new consumption trends and innovative formats to stay relevant. Recreational activities at home expanded and covered the whole gamut of recreation and learning new skills. At the same time, virtualization has become a mainstay for all of us, and we have been eager to recreate pre-COVID experiences on digital platforms. We understand the evolving needs of customers and help them create unforgettable moments. We listened to what our customers wanted and delivered, during the first year of the shutdown, consumers were really missing out on the bar experience, so we launched Doers Home Edit, bringing the bar cocktail experience to consumers’ homes with a bartender and all that is expected in a bar. Keeping our consumers curious and engaged.

We pride ourselves on being leaders in creating culturally relevant experiences, so we reached a point where we knew we had to go beyond just an ‘other’ virtual experience. To take things to the next level, we created an immersive 3D virtual island AP. We’ve transported people across 25 different countries to our Caribbean paradise – an ode to our brand with BACARDI roots. The highlight for fans was the ability to enjoy a full sensory experience through spatial audio and personal avatars.

The pandemic has revolutionized our lives, and some trends and systems may be fast fads and some may be here to stay. We’ll continue to listen to consumers, anticipate their needs, and add real value – all with a little creative rebellion of course!

Q) What are some of the new formats you’ve explored for interacting with your audience?

During the early days of the lockdown, we started with virtual mixology sessions across brands like BACARDÍ, DEWAR’S and BOMBAY SAPPHIRE, to help consumers enjoy some of their favorite cocktails in the comfort of their own home. Then move on to virtual concerts and weekend shows like BACARDÍ #HappyAtHome Sessions. We also encouraged consumers to add a touch of dance to their daily routines through the BREEZER’S #BreezerShuffle campaign.

Ultimately, we’ve moved large-format activations to the digital realm, such as Casa BACARDÍ’s transition to Lemonade Social last year and then coming alive in a virtual 3D avatar this year. The happiest music festival, BACARDÍ NH7 Weekender, has also been broadcast digitally. BREEZER Vivid Shuffle, India’s largest hip-hop league, was held almost as well. In its significant fifth season, it was launched online in August but as a hybrid model where both online and on land will be seamlessly integrated together.

Q) Things are slowly opening up now. What is your plan for advancement?

We have been very flexible during these changing and challenging times, constantly matching our clients’ needs and preferences. It has helped us maintain our human connection. Since we’ve been so active across our brands, this has mitigated the need for a radical revival plan. Aside from hosting content and campaigns digitally, we’ve also done some experimenting on the ground where possible. For example, last year, Casa BACARDÍ – Halloween Staycation in Abode Bombay was organized for select guests by following all COVID safety protocols. We were able to host the ultimate BACARDÍ experience with no restrictions and fun curated content. Our platforms remain the same, it is only the channel through which we communicate will be seamless. We will continue to operate in this way, meet the dynamic demands of consumers and explore new and innovative formats.

Q) Has content marketing become a more important tool for you as a brand in these past 1.5 years?

Content has always been an essential marketing tool for us at Bacardi and even more recently because it transcends geographical and physical boundaries. We have constantly built culturally relevant conversations across our brands with influential and enthusiastic people. It’s important for us not to overinvest in one particular channel or method of communication because we know that real people have multiple media touchpoints throughout the day. It is important to understand this journey, what channel mixes are most effective, and how we can adapt messages or content to add value in each channel. Multichannel marketing can be tough in the dark market, but we will always work with regulations to be responsible and efficient at the same time.

Q) BACARDÍ and music have been going hand in hand for years. Aside from the properties you’ve built over the years, are there plans to create more music properties?

Brand BACARDÍ has earned the right to participate in the country’s music space with its dedicated efforts. BACARDÍ NH7 Weekender has been the happiest music festival for over a decade now. Launched as BACARDÍ House Party Sessions, BACARDÍ Sessions has provided a platform for many emerging artists and opened avenues for artists through dance and art last year. He also curated fun content and weekend parties like #HappyAtHome and #PassTheBeat sessions, where artists in 4 countries hit real beat.

Globally, the brand launched an exciting new version of ‘Conga’ earlier this year, enabling consumers around the world to participate. We are very proud of both these platforms and the way they have supported artists and brought new experiences to audiences, and we will continue to build more of these avenues across cultural pillars, while keeping our customers at heart.

Q) From a marketer’s perspective, are there some things that have changed forever for the Bacardi brand in this new world order? Going forward, what is your broad marketing strategy for building a deeper connection with your customers?

It is indeed a new world order, but it has not changed our fundamental pillars; Instead, it instilled more confidence in our purpose and our human-centered approach. Brand and companies tend to panic in crises and make drastic changes. Real brands that can stand the test of time must be brave in their convictions and always believe in what they have come out with. Sure, you’ll always have to adapt to your context, but for Bacardi, it’s about staying the course and in moments of uncertainty. People will remember brands for being true to what they have always stood for. Going forward, we will continue to focus on real people, their preferences and aspirations, and strengthen our brands’ position in culture.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Subscribe Today




Get unlimited access to our EXCLUSIVE Content and our archive of subscriber stories.

Exclusive content

Latest article

More article