How Keeping Music at the Heart of Bacardi’s Identity Helped it Create Strong Brand Recall


  • As the restrictions on the AlcoBev category grew stronger, there was an upsurge in music associations
  • Bacardí was among one of the first brands to marry music into its marketing strategy and in the last 20 years, the way it has used music has also evolved
  • The last song released under Bacardi House Party Sessions was Sage by Ritviz, which gained a lot of love from millennials and we asked Anshuman Goenka how much it helped the brand

Bacardí India has leveraged music since its inception in India, forming a strong brand identity for its rum portfolio. The brand’s journey from the beginning of Bacardi Blast in the early 2000s to NH7 Weekender, to Bacardí House Party Sessions (BHPS) proves how music was the anchor to its growth, as if its inseparable from its brand identity.

In the last four to five years, as the restrictions on the AlcoBev category grew stronger, there was an upsurge in music associations. However, Bacardí was among one of the first brands to marry music into its marketing strategy and in the last 20 years, the way it has used music has also evolved.

Anshuman Goenka, Head of Marketing, Bacardí India shared how music has helped Bacardi maintain a strong brand recall, surf through the restrictions on alcobev brands in our country, and how it has pushed the brand to come up with innovative solutions every time.

Out of all their properties, Goenka holds Bacardí NH7 Weekender closest to his heart. As he feels nostalgic for the golden days and excited for their on-going campaign called ‘ Do What Moves You,’ we are bringing to you some excerpts from our interview:

Q. Can you walk me through Bacardí's music journey? Which musical property do you place close to your heart?


In its 20 odd years in India, Bacardí has gone from being famous for hosting parties way beyond it’s time like the Bacardí Blast campaign and that one early jingle “Be what you wanna be”, to associating with iconic music festivals and content creators. In 1999, when we launched the Bacardí Blast campaign, we literally took the concept of nightclubs out in the open, pioneering the idea of open-air music experiences.

For the last couple of years, we have used every platform possible to give our artists a bigger and better stage to create the music that moves them and showcases their talent. Continuing to work with music, we realized that there seemed to be no platform where music-lovers could just spend a few days in the company of what they enjoyed the most. That is when the brand along with OML created Bacardí NH7 Weekender to bring the best of music - independent artists, local and international to perform to the cheering crowds in India, a few days of pure music bliss.

This platform helped us create several new relationships with the indie scene and we slowly came to understand the gaps these talented artists face leading to the culmination of Bacardí House Party Sessions, an avenue for independent artists to create, develop and promote their music with the benefit of every resource possible and mentorship.

Yet, of all of our properties, the one that remains closest to our hearts, will have to be Bacardí NH7 Weekender. We take immense pride in having built one of the most anticipated music festivals in the Indian calendar, or better yet, one of the happiest music festivals. This year, we’re celebrating a decade of Bacardí NH7 Weekender, one of the first, large scale music festivals India had ever seen. When we see the online excitement leading up to the Weekender, the crowds lining up to enter and audiences singing along to indie artists, it’s worth far more than any measurable outcome.

Q. Bacardí was one of the first few brands in our country to leverage music as a marketing strategy. Tell me how has this played out – how has using music benefited the brand so far?

From Bacardí Blast to Bacardí NH7 Weekender, music is truly entrenched in Bacardí’s DNA and we understand that building equity takes years of both consistent interest and investment, and seeing real impact requires long-term assessment. When we look at the benefits from campaigns such as Bacardí House Party Sessions, we see the rise in brand uplift scores and based on our brand surveys, over 80% of Bacardí NH7 Weekender attendees have a strong brand recall and resonate with the fact that Bacardí stands for great musical experiences.

The increase in engagement that we’ve been garnering on digital platforms, the artist’s familiarity across regions and sheer audience love at BNH7 Weekender, where these songs are sung along within a week of their release, are a testament to our efforts and investments.

Q. Do you think music has been a great alternative for AlcoBev brands in India? How do you see the category using it now v/s when you began?

In the last 5-6 years, there has been a surge of AlcoBev brands in India associating with music. Music knows no boundaries and increasingly, brands are starting to latch on to this emerging trend because it allows them to communicate to a wider target audience. This began in the late 2000s with the outbreak of several sponsored music festivals and events cropping up across the region. However, brands have long moved beyond mere sponsorships and are now engaging with the community by curating meaningful experiences. Workshops, panel discussions and intimate house gigs are a few of the prominent mediums that brands have employed. Some have even gone further to facilitate long-term collaborations directly with artists building creative brand narratives through these artists’ voices.

For Bacardí itself, music was never just a tool, but a means for us to give back to our audiences. Our approach has consistently been to engage and uplift the music community and our consumers, leading up to our most recent and focused campaign BHPS. It is a platform that identifies artists with a unique sound, followed by a dedicated team that works with them right from production to marketing. From our experience, right from Bacardí Blast and Bacardí NH7 Weekender, to Bacardí House Party Sessions, we have realised that music opens avenues for brands to own a space and host global platforms that resonate with consumers over a long time.

Q. Do you think Bacardí was able to create a niche by focusing specifically on independent music?

While we’re not the only brand to work with independent musicians, with Bacardí House Party Sessions, we are unique in the way that we help artists scale their careers. We work only with emerging artists year on year, giving them the right exposure and opportunity, allowing them to break through in a much shorter time frame. We identify artists who we feel have a unique sound, followed by a dedicated team that works with them to create, curate and promote their music. We also give them an opportunity to work with and learn from the best in the industry. This year, we had mentors like Amit Trivedi, Benny Dayal and Mohini Dey on board, who help the artists craft their music better. Bacardí supports the artist from the moment the music is penned, to the point where people sing along to their songs, from the production of their music to the promotion of the videos we helped create. This approach has helped us create a niche not only within independent music but also as an enabler of a community that requires resources, recognition and mentorship. That’s where we feel that we have bridged the gaps just nudging the undeniable talent that already exists in our country.

Q. How are these associations being leveraged digitally, considering the restrictions placed on alcohol marketing in India?

India is a challenging market, one that encourages us to find innovative and interesting ways to connect with our consumers. Bacardí functions on a unique content-creator model wherein we work with artists like comedians, dancers and musicians, and allow them to curate their content while keeping our brand ethos in mind, which is ‘Do what moves you’. This encourages the artists to do their thing, without fear of interference from the brand. Digitally, this approach works well with audiences who identify with our campaigns much more, when the artist is the hero of the story. It ensures that our content is original and more relevant, especially for millennial viewers. BHPS itself has taken off entirely through a digital approach lately.

A combination of both mediums (digital and on-ground) is what we believe will really sustain our work.
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