Bacardi Triangle – Bacardi Experiments With Millennial Marketing

Bacardi Triangle
Bacardi Triangle

The proposition for The Bacardi Triangle was enough to make a Millennial tweet, Snapchat or Facebook with glee (and envy): a three night island music festival where regular consumers could win a chance to be flown out on a private jumbo jet, hosted at a 5 star resort, and have a non-stop party with three top level musicians: Ellie Goulding, Kendrick Lamar, and Calvin Harris.

The extremely well constructed sizzle trailer for Bacardi Triangle made it seem like the event of a life time, and that’s the point.

“People in the new generation don’t want all these kind of possessions, they just want something like an experience, and do something which is very special, very different to normal goods, normal stuff, normal everything. That was the starting point when we started to think ‘what’s next, what’s the next chapter that we’re building on?”,  explained Dmitry Ivanov, Senior Global Category Director of Rums for Bacardi.

Dmitry Ivanov Explains Bacardi Triangle
Dmitry Ivanov Explains Bacardi Triangle

The Bacardi Triangle is a very expensive Millennial marketing experiment for Bacardi: instead of buying ads on popular Millennial-friendly TV shows like The Walking Dead, or run audio ads on Spotify or Pandora, Bacardi put a considerable budget (rumored to be around 5 million dollars) into throwing a gigantic party with the hopes that the attendees would tweet, Instagram, and Facebook the event. It’s an interesting way of positioning the brand with the target audience – instead of telling them that Bacardi rum is an integral part of music and nightlife, it’s shown to them by other consumers via social media.

For this first event, Bacardi flew in a handful of winners from giveaways on Millennial-focused sites (like Paste Magazine and NME), but an even larger percentage of the attendees were key influencers, including bloggers and tastemakers like Tatiana Sy from Pretty Much Amazing, Prairie Rose from Bit By A Fox, Joe from Joe’s Daily, and Hungry Editor Benjamin Liong Setiawan. Many of these invitees have vast social networks spanning across many social media platforms.

Two Days of DJs
Two Days of DJs

So how did Bacardi do with Bacardi Triangle? The answer is mixed. By “cutting out the middle man” in the music festival space and trying to do it all themselves, Bacardi clearly ventured outside its core competency. The Bacardi Triangle music festival was plagued by logistical nightmares and a line-up that was so backloaded that two of the three days had no headliners or performers aside from buzzy DJs who often struggled to engage the crowd.


#BacardiTriangle Hashtag Stats
#BacardiTriangle Hashtag Stats

Beyond the production of the event, Bacardi seemed to get a fairly solid response on social media. According to the social monitoring site Keyhole, between October 27th and November 3rd the #BacardiTriangle hashtag was used in 540 posts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, reaching over 10 million unique people and 15 million impressions – a fairly expensive cost per reach compared to other media, but this doesn’t include the value from the media given in exchange for hosting giveaways or advertorials, like in this month’s Chilled Magazine.

Aside from the social media generated from the event, Bacardi had an army of videographers capturing every aspect of the Bacardi Triangle event using every kind of digital capturing device you could imagine, including large format Red HD Cams, GoPro clusters, and even drones. This content was used for daily video updates on Bacardi’s Facebook page, but we expect much more of it to roll out on a variety of digital platforms in the near future.

The big question is: can brands really create experiences that will appeal to millennials and is the cost of these experiences worth it? Bacardi indicated that the Bacardi Triangle is the first in what may become a long line of experiential, event-based marketing efforts. Whether they work or not, Bacardi Triangle is a major and important step for spirit brands as they attempt to crack the code on how to market and appeal to the next generation.

  • Vestal Vodka

    I saw a lot of this on FB/Twitter through bartenders and spirit bloggers although engagement seemed low at a glance ( but i’m no expert ) I know the Vestal Voyages our floating bar and distillery based in London , Kings X has had some great feed back from bar teams from London , Paris , US , Greece , Netherlands and Scandinavia who have visited.

    As I don’t have the budget of Bacardi (yet) i think experiential marketing like this should have a value attached to it to increase its worth and that a small payment does focus the attendees on why they are there ?

    ( clearly not jealous at all )

    • The engagement may have been impacted by really bad Internet connectivity at the venue and hotel (which was kind of shocking given the strategy).

      A floating bar sounds fantastic, sounds like you absolutely on the right path. I don’t know if the scale of what Bacardi did here either scales or has enough return on investment, one of the reasons I wrote the piece is that I think the strategy is interesting and other brands can certainly learn from Bacardi’s successes and failures with Bacardi Triangle.

      Only 300 of the folks paid for tickets to the end concert, it would have been interesting if there were folks who paid to fly down and stay/etc. Response on social media may have been vastly different as I often heard “it’s a free trip, how can I really complain”

      • Jon

        I was one of the guests who went and I agree. I had that very mentality but if I was one of the people who paid, I wouldv’e complained. The almost non existant internet service. The check in issues ( we were on line for 2 and 1/2 hours to check in and people seemed to be having major issues getting their name from on the system),some of the wristbands weren’t working ( my friend had to change his wristband twice) the rescheduling of events to the point where the first night ended at basically 1:30am when there was supposed to be an afterparty until 5 am and the main event started 30 minutes later than scheduled.

        Despite all of that, it was still an excellent experience. The main event , went it started, went off without any other issues, we were throughly entertained that by the second afternoon it was an all out raver by the pool. The sense of exclusivity was there ( especially at the Point when me and my friend thought it would be exclusive VIP and media and were surprised to see how simple it was to get in and almost met Ellie Goulding),and the event at the end of it all made you feel that way ( never have I’ve ever been in front of the stage for a major artist before).

        So at the end it’s a great start for Bacardi,and they have lessons to learn when they do their next event. I’m grateful, and would gladly do it again if given the chance.

        • Jon. Yeah a lot of what you describe I filed under the heading “logistical nightmares”. The ferry, especially the return one was beyond horrid and the fact that the internet was non-existent was a shock, especially considering the goal of the event was to generate online buzz.

          The actual concert was really fantastic. I thought Kendrick Lamar really distinguished himself with a world class performance and Calvin Harris did what he does. I was very disappointed that it was billed as a 3 day music festival and really it wasn’t. It was 2 days of DJs (with no real headliner) and then a concert.

          But there were some really nice moments, many people may not have known it but behind the bar were some of the world’s top bartenders and the effort they put out was top notch.

          Lots of lessons here both for Bacardi and for other spirit companies trying to crack the code of how to do experiential marketing.

          Thank you for your comment though. It gives folks a real peek into the experience.

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