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Bacardi Targets Scotch Growth, Backing Dewar’s With $15 Million Ad Effort

January 22, 2019

Bacardi is seeking to leverage its position in Scotch whisky with a renewed push for its flagship Dewar’s brand and its portfolio of single malt offerings. All of Bacardi’s Scotch whiskies were initially grouped under the John Dewar & Sons banner but since last year the single malts have come into their own—a strategy aimed at bringing greater visibility to the single malts while allowing Dewar’s to stand on its own as a unique blend.

Dewar’s recently kicked off a $15 million ad campaign entitled “Live True,” which will run through the end of 2019. The campaign highlights Dewar’s double maturation process and is running on TV and in print in sports, food, and travel publications. “We have an umbrella proposition for Dewar’s, and in price, style, and occasions, we’ve positioned the different whiskies as complementary,” says Brian Cox, vice president of Dewar’s for North America. Cox adds that the brand will focus on highball serves as a way to reengage with consumers. Bacardi is promoting Dewar’s White Label with soda or ginger ale and the 12-year-old with soda or in the Penicillin cocktail.

Bacardi is hoping that the new ad campaign, coupled with on-premise activations and point-of-sale initiatives will help reverse Dewar’s recent decline. The brand sells around 1 million cases in the U.S. annually, but was down 4.4% in Nielsen channels in the 52 weeks through December 29.

Bacardi increasingly has emphasized its range of single malts—Aberfeldy, the Aultmore, Deveron, Craigellachie, and Royal Brackla—to raise its profile in the Scotch world and tap into the connoisseur segment. “Aberfeldy is our star,” says Ian Taylor, Bacardi’s global brand director for malts. “It’s by far our largest malt, and the only one that’s been out there for any length of time.”

Bacardi is promoting Aberfeldy as the “Golden Dram,” through gift sets and the Barrels and Bees platform, which highlights the honeyed flavors present in the whisky. In addition, the company recently offered a three-bottle release that contained Aberfeldy, Dewar’s 12-year-old, and Craigellachie 13-year-old.

Bacardi’s focus on its single malts will continue to ramp up over the next two years, as the company gives each label more individual focus. “We’ve got a couple activations that have happened on Craigellachie, but we’re still very much at the start,” says Taylor. “We’re doing it piece by piece.” Continuing through 2019, Craigellachie is celebrating the limited release of a 51-year-old malt through free pop-up tastings, which will be the only way to try it.

While Bacardi continues to seed growth on its single malt portfolio, supply management remains a challenge. “Previously we were a blending company, and we weren’t doing single malt planning, in terms of stock,” Taylor says. “It’s a little bit tricky, but we’re working our way through that.” Across the board, the John Dewar & Sons whiskies will be marketed with consumer education in mind, with age statements as a key part of the strategy, he adds.—Shane English

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