Time for Universal McCann (media arm of McCann-Erickson) folks to uncork the champagne err… Bacardi rum. Universal McCann's Delhi office has just picked up the media account of liquor major Bacardi-Martini India. Bacardi currently has three brands in India - Carta Blanca white rum, Reserva dark rum, and the recently introduced Bacardi Limon. The account moves from Carat. For the records, McCann-Eriskson, Delhi, handles the creative account for Bacardi since the time it entered India in 1996.
Coincidentally, Adweek reported on August 4 that Bacardi USA has consolidated its US media buying account at Universal McCann, which claims global billings of $17.2 billion. Thus, Universal McCann, US, which handled media buying for Bacardi Light Rum, added the buying duties for Bacardi Limon, the recently launched Bacardi O, Dewar's Scotch, Bombay Sapphire, Martini & Rossi Asti and Drambuie. For the US business, Optimedia International, owned by the Publicis Group, was the incumbent. The US billings are estimated at $40-50 million and include broadcast, print and online media buys.
Calls to Bacardi's Delhi office and to Carat's offices in Delhi and Mumbai proved futile because no senior executive was available for comment. However, senior sources at McCann-Erickson confirm the move saying that talks had been on for over three weeks now. They also indicate that the development in India is independent of the move in the US. "We have been talking to them for about a month now and we got an inkling about the impending move here some two weeks back. But Carat may not have been informed yet," he adds.
Bacardi Martini India, a 76:26 joint venture between Bacardi Martini and Gemini Distilleries of Mysore, has been a consistent advertiser from the time it set foot in India. But no estimates are available as to the size of the media account or the creative account. What is certain is that McCann-Erickson works on the creative account of Bacardi against a fee. According to the agencyfaqs! source, "This is a key win for Universal McCann because the brand has been built in India on advertising… the company's investment on communication is substantial. Also because the company has very ambitious designs for this market."
It appears the company plans to import international brands of white spirits and scotch whisky into the country. Bacardi has started negotiating with various foreign liquor majors for marketing their spirits in India. It also plans to introduce ready-to-serve drinks in the domestic market. Bacardi has a strong marketing and distribution network which will help it to market these foreign brands.
The company already has an alliance with William Grant for co-marketing its products in India. This alliance follows an international marketing tie-up between the two companies. In India, the marketing alliance is for promoting William Grant's Glenfiddich, the world's leading malt whisky, and William Grant's Family Reserve, the world's fourth largest blended scotch.
Currently, Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Glenfiddich Solera Reserve, Glenfiddich Ancient Reserve and William Grants Family Reserve are marketed by Bacardi at duty-free shops, popular bars and restaurants that possess imported liquor licenses.
There are indications that Bacardi will make a foray into the whiskey segment soon and may initially market premium whiskey brands of Whyte and Mackay India. The brands under consideration include Whytehall, Genesis and Royal Peg. This follows Bacardi International's move to acquire American Beverages (Mauritius) Ltd, which has a 51 per cent shareholding in Whyte and Mackay India Ltd, with Radico Khaitan as the local joint venture partner. The company is looking to capture 25 per cent market share in the premium spirits segment in three years against 14-15 per cent currently.
Though the launch schedule and the range of products were yet to be finalised, Universal McCann hopes that the new products will be aligned with it in India, giving a significant boost to its portfolio.
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