New Bacardi ads revives Cuba Libre history


Through all sorts of societal changes and over several generations, the Cuba Libre has endured as a very popular cocktail.

The recipe is a simple one: Light rum, Coca-Cola and a squeeze of lime.

Where it came from is, as is the case with so many cocktail origins, a matter of opinion.

The most popular version matches that told in a soon-to-be-released Bacardi USA TV commercial -- that it was created in Cuba in 1900 as Colonel Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders helped fight for the island's independence from Spain -- and takeover by the U.S. They toasted the victory with the cheer "Free Cuba!" or "Cuba Libre!" in Spanish.

The spot, reports Advertising Age, is the first in a series of ads showing historical events that shaped the 151 year-old brand, which has links to the creation of other rum cocktails such as the Daiquiri and Mojito. However, Coca-Cola won't be getting a free ride on the Bacardi advertisng dollar. The ad will refer to the drink as "run and cola."

The historic theme may well be in response to competitors' rum ads featuring historic personalities. Diageo has recast its once silly Captain Morgan as real-life privateer Captain Henry Morgan of the 1600s. William Grant & Sons is pushing its Sailor Jerry rum by using Norman "Sailor Jerry" Collins, a renowned American tattoo artist and Navy man of the mid-1900s.

Last year, both brands gained market share on Bacardi, although it remains the top-selling U.S. rum with 35.4% share in 2012, according to Euromonitor International which measures volume of liters sold. Captain Morgan is No. 2 with 23.2%, and Sailor Jerry No. 7 at 2.6%.

Bacardi's campaign is timed to coincide with Cuban Independence Day on Monday. Interesting, considering both Bacardi and Coca-Cola left the island nation after Fidel Castro came to power. Bacardi now is made in Puerto Rico; Coca-Cola in plants all over the world -- except Cuba and North Korea where the product is not sold.


William M. Dowd said...

Robert Gerard says:

Bacardi really boneheaded this ad. Teddy Roosevelt and his "Roughriders" fought in Cuba in 1898. The war ENDED in 1898. There was NO ROOSEVELT and NO ROUGHRIDERS in Cuba in 1900. Roosevelt in 1900 was running on McKINLEY'S reelection ticket as VICE PRESIDENT!

Leave it to modern advertisement to royally
screw up a most common historical fact.

Wise up Bacardi.

William M. Dowd said...

Great catch, Robert. Here's what Wikipedia says about the final day of the Rough Riders:

"On the morning of 15 September 1898, the regimental property including all equipment, firearms and horses were turned back over to the United States government. The soldiers said one last good-bye to each other and the United States First Volunteer Cavalry, Roosevelt's Rough Riders, was disbanded at last. Before they all returned to their respective homes across the country, Colonel Roosevelt gave them a short speech that commended their efforts in the war, expressed his profound pride and reminded them that, although heroes, they would have to integrate back into normal society and work as hard as everyone else. Many of the men were unable to gain their jobs back from when they lost them before leaving for war. Some, due to illness or injury, were unable to work for a long time. Money was donated by a number of wealthier supporters of the regiment and used to supplement the well being of the needy veterans, many of whom were too proud to accept the help."