At a time when brand storytelling is exploding, Bacardi has jumped on board creating a Graphic Novel to bring to life the brand's rich history.
Set against Cuba’s struggle for independence from Spain in the late 1800s ‘The Spirit of Bacardi’ tells the story of Emilio Bacardi, the son of Don Facundo Bacardi Masso.
Bacardi ran a campaign against the Spanish colonial rule and was repeatedly imprisoned and exiled for his belief in an independent Cuba. He went on to become the first freely-elected Mayor of Santiago de Cuba.
The novel tells the story of the Bacardi family’s journey against exile, earthquakes and fires to create the first Cuba Libre in 1900.
This story is brought to life in the graphic novel by award winning writer Warren Ellis (RED, RED 2, Hellstorm and Planetary) and artist Michael Allred (best known for creating Madman and illustrating comics for Marvel and DC Comics). Allred even incorporated drops of Bacardi Rum into the ink used for the illustrations.
Andy Gibson, Chief Marketing Officer of Bacardi, said, "We see The Spirit of Bacardi as a fantastic way to tell the stories behind "Bacardi Untameable Since 1862," our new global marketing campaign that inspires consumers to pursue their passions no matter what-much like the Bacardi family did-encouraging camaraderie and strength of character."
"Authenticity is increasingly important to our consumers, especially millennials. While first and foremost we want the graphic novel to be entertaining, we are also saying something important about our brand; that we have the heritage to back up our attitude," added Gibson.
Bacardi have released a limited run of 2,000 print copies of “The Spirit of Bacardi”.
Bacardi is looking to tap into the passion and spirit of the brand’s history by bringing the story behind its brand to life. This is a smart move and one, which fits with the brands global marketing campaigns, which also exploit the brand’s rich history.
The decision to create a graphic novel is a unique move however and one worthy of analysis.
There has been a significant increase in popularity around graphic novels and comics in recent years. This rising interest has been significantly propelled by the number of comic and graphic novels, which have been made into films such as Watchmen, Sin City as well as the film versions of comic book characters like Thor, Iron Man and Wolverine.
The Graphic Novel is “hugely popular with Millennials right now”, according to Bacardi’s Senior Global Category Director of Rums, Dmitry Ivanov.
Ivanov told Mashable: “The target is young men who “share similar values of freedom, passion and irrepressibility,” who have the “same unconstrained attitude.”
The pairing of Bacardi with the graphic novel is not an obvious or expected move however it is quite a good fit.
The novel brings to life the rich history of Bacardi and it is a tale worthy of sharing. The Bacardi story presents a classic tale of the triumph of good versus evil. It features an optimistic protagonist fighting against oppression for freedom. It exhibits all the right measures of passion, bravery, overcoming adversity and obstacles to realise a dream. Set in the midst of Cuba’s struggles to become independent, it is dark and comes from the shadows, much like most of the graphic novel genre.
The story, much like the brands global tagline “Untamable Spirit” seeks to educate people about the origins of Bacardi and to inspire and engage them with the brand. It's a simple, yet solid strategy.
The marketing industry spends a lot of time talking about storytelling and how brands can share their stories, Bacardi is a great example of a brand with a wonderfully rich and genuinely interesting story to tell. This is not a story for the sake of storytelling and branded entertainment, this is a genuine tale, which will provide the brand with authenticity and the ability to create genuine connections with consumers.
Bacardi could easily have made a film or even a series to tell the story, but it would likely have been just another brand film fighting for people’s time and attention. By choosing to take a unique approach and committing the story to comic form, it is instantly more interesting and more worthy of people’s times.
As Ellis said in a Bacardi press release: “Storytelling requires great characters, and in Emilio Bacardi we have exactly that. Emilio was a patriot, passionate about his homeland of Cuba. My focus was to bring his drive and determination to life.”
As a mainstream Rum brand Bacardi has to work harder to appeal to younger audiences looking for authenticity and uniqueness from the brands and prodcts they buy. Bacardi have given substance to the brand by sharing the company’s interesting and colourful beginnings and this will it help consumers to create real connections with the brand.
“We know consumers enjoy content from brands when it’s entertaining, and when it’s genuine and authentic,” Ivanov said. “They like brands with substance, who are real, and who have a certain attitude to life.”
The strategy here is to engage consumers and give them something to connect with. Bacardi is no longer just a booze brand, it’s a rum with a rich history and story linking back to the 1800s.
I really like this work. The move to create a graphic novel is unique, unexpected and quite cool. It’s not for everyone, but neither is Bacardi. Ultimately the move to do something creative and unique will appeal to consumers and potentially introduce new customers to the brand
The artistry is excellent, as would be expected when using professionals at the top of their game. The teaser film brings humour and irreverance to the project giving it further levels and depths. Also in using two highly respected comic and graphic novelists, in Ellis and Allred, Bacardi guarantee attention and demand for the limited edition creations. Well played Bacardi.
Bacardi have taken the road less travelled and created a stand out piece of storytelling. The graphic novel is unique and fitting for the brand story. I give it 3 stars.