The competition where marketing matters…
We’re got to hand it to the brand new BACARDÍ Legacy champ, Ran Van Ongevalle – the fella sure knows how to deliver the goods.
From the way he approached the making of his beloved Clarita, putting himself in the mindset of a Maestro De Ron to, in his words, “create a perfect harmony in flavours”, through to the making of his funny but very slick promotional video (see below), he was one of the favourites from the off.
Then of course there was the delivery of his presentation… We won’t lie, the fact Mr Van Ongevalle is incredibly agreeable on the eye doesn’t hurt, but winning a global cocktail competition takes more than a cute smile, twinkly eyes and a good measure of confidence – it’s about breaking down all of the elements: the delicious drink, strong concept and well thought out messaging and bringing them together in a truly impassioned performance. (Read our interview with Ran here)
Ran on stage, perfecting his Clarita
That’s what everyone – the judges, invited guests and those watching the action via the live feed, get to see – the things that bartenders do best; the recreation of their drinks, showing off of their skills and waxing lyrical about their creations. There is another element to the BACARDÍ Legacy competition though, the less sexy bits that only a few are privy to. That’s the judging of the marketing campaigns.
The business of drinks
In case you didn’t know, 30% of the overall mark in the BACARDÍ Legacy Global Cocktail Competition comes from the promotional campaigns. This is the part where bartenders have to get their business heads on and come up with all manner of clever ways to get their Legacy drink in front of as many bods as possible. Smart move as far as the brand is concerned but it benefits the bartender too. How so? Well, it’s a given that all 38 global finalists can make a damned fine drink, one that’s simple enough to be replicated anywhere in the world but with a little extra something to make the flavours sing. Where they might come a cropper is when they try their marketing caps on for size. And let’s face it, that’s what they’re going to need if they want to go further in their careers and possibly open their own bars. As for the competition, 30% may not seem like a lot on the scoring front but it’s enough to make a big difference if a drink was okay-ish but the smart ideas and numbers behind it make the judges sit up and take notice. Believe us, it happened…
Set in a light, airy room away from the main stage and judging whether said headgear fit or not was Enrique Comas (Global Brand Manager at BACARDÍ Global Brands), Melissa Frank (VP Marketing, BACARDÍ Europe), and Ryan Chetiyawardana (Mr Lyan, king of the cocktail jungle). We also had a seat in the prestigious line up. Together we listened as each finalist swapped their shaker for a Powerpoint presentation and talked us through the rationale behind their campaigns.
There was no room for X-Factor-like tales of overcoming adversity or whipping the crowd into a frenzy here. All we were interested in during the allocated seven minutes was hearing about the extra-curricular work that they’d put into their cocktail. That was precisely 420 seconds to convey everything they’d worked on for the past five or so months, including branding, samplings, trainings, press coverage and all kinds of genius shenanigans.
If it sounds a bit dry, it was in the sense that we only got to taste one competitor’s drink during the two days judging process (thank you Matías Iriarte of Spain. Take note BLGCC 2018 finalists, the occasional bottled tipple does not go amiss with the promo judges) but as for entertainment? Not a bit of it.
Not all markets are created equal
Hands up who knew France was a grey market? Or that drinks advertising with lifestyle imagery, samplings, happy hours, drink deals or free gifts are not permitted in Switzerland? Thailand doesn’t allow any public sampling without a venue license, nor does it go in for advertising in traditional media or pre-batching cocktails for sale or sampling, while in Turkey there’s no promoting of alcohol to consumers, samples, mentions of alcohol on social media or drinks imagery allowed in bars. Other markets with limitations of some kind or other include Mexico, China, Cruise Ships, Austria, India, Belarus, Finland, Norway, Italy, Poland, Russia, Sweden and Ukraine.
The 38 competitors: each one an absolute G
Did this hold the competitors back? Did it heck as like. If anything, those with restrictions were even more creative in how they got their message across. That said, we did have to bear in mind any restraints, together with the support each market received in terms of financial help to assist with their campaigns in our overall marks.
We knew bartenders were clever so-and-so’s but some of the ideas they came up with were freakin’ awesome. Here Enrique Comas shares a few highlights and examples of best practice:
Loreta Toska representing Greece with her BACARDÍ Legacy drink Look For The Silver Lining: “She showed a great use of sponsorship, partnering up with Avon, used celebrity tie-ins to secure press coverage, had a good CSR angle and a huge number of sales.”
Conor Myers representing the Republic of Ireland with his BACARDÍ Legacy drink Electric Avenue: “Conor had a clear objective to link his drink to music festivals and has secured contracts for listings across key European festivals which will give his drink immense coverage this year.”
Enrique Comas with Pilar and José Sánchez Gavito
Hideyuki Saito representing Thailand with his BACARDÍ Legacy drink La Blanca: “Hideyuki found very imaginative ways to sample his drink in a dark market where sampling is forbidden – via pop-ups, use of chocolates made with his drink and driving consumers to purchase.”
Kenny Klein representing Austria with his BACARDÍ Legacy drink Curiosity: “Just the number of events and varied activity Kenny was able to deliver through his catering company gave him massive scale.”
Vitaly Alekseyev representing The Netherlands with his BACARDÍ Legacy drink Big Fish: “Vitaly secured promotional support from the brand ambassadors of the other ingredients in his drink (a sherry and tea company), as well as the glassware company who will be launching a glass for his drink for commercial sale, which will be accompanied by the recipe for his drink.”
Osman Fethi Baycan representing Turkey with his BACARDÍ Legacy drink Efe: “Turkey is a dark market where Oman can’t promote his drink, so he developed apparel (bags, t-shirts, etc) and publicised his cocktail this way. He also initiated a CSR tree planting scheme with money made from his drink and apparel.”
Max Ivaschenko representing Russia with his BACARDÍ Legacy drink Solaris: “Another dark market where sampling is prohibited so to get people to try and buy his drink Max linked with Uber to offer free rides to people who bought his drink (300 were redeemed).”
Darren Miley representing New Zealand with his BACARDÍ Legacy drink Admiral’s Salute: “Darren created an awards ceremony for his drink called the ‘Saluties’ and had 641 people voting for people who deserved a salute for their hard work.”
As for the winner, Ran Van Ongevalle, check his promotional video below and judge for yourself.
A word of thanks
We’d like to extend a salute, Darren Miley style, to Ole Buddrus from Cateristic GmbH for creating the perfect app for judging the competition. Not only did it contain all of the competitor background info that we needed at a glance, it looked smart and worked like a dream. But the best bit was, it tallied up all of our scores in an instant, making light work of the extremely difficult job at hand. Bloomin’ marvellous.
BACARDÍ Legacy 2017 promotional campaigns in numbers
Total drinks listed on menus permanently: 351
Total drinks listed on menus temporarily: 518
Total drinks sold: 153,623
Total drinks sampled: 47,853
Total guest shifts undertaken: 313
Total masterclasses, seminars or events: 430
Total bartenders trained to make BACARDÍ Legacy drinks: 5,333
NB: Next year’s BACARDÍ Legacy Global Cocktail Competition will take place in Mexico, so get your thinking caps on for your future Legacy cocktail folks… Check bacardilegacy.com for details