El Rey de Los Rones
Bacardí - Cuba’s Prodigal Family
The brainchild of Facundo Bacardí Masso, a Spanish wine merchant, based in Santiago de Cuba, Bacardi has grown in its 158 year history to one of the most recognisable brands in the world, hell it even inspired Cardi B’s name. But the company behind it is a real enigma.
We delved into its fascinating story and what we found amazed us -
Lets start with the Iconic logo shall we? The story goes that the logo was inspired by the fruit bats that lived in the copper and iron rafters of the family’s first Distillery. Facundo chose the logo to make the brand recognisable among the illiterate Cuban population.
Synonymous with tropical leisure, Bacardi was the inventor of the Mojito, Daquiri and Rum and Coke.
The company and family were exiled from Cuba after the Cuban revolution in the ‘60s because of a falling out with Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. Subsequently they moved their operations to Hamilton, Bermuda, where they are headquartered to this day. Due to their foresight, they had transferred some of their Intellectual property and factories overseas, as once the Castro regime came to power - they nationalised all their assets.
While it claims to be of Cuban heritage, there has existed intense animosity between Bacardi and Cuba ever since. It is most evidently seen in the huge competition in the Rum market between Bacardi and Havana Club (a nationalised Cuban Distiller). In fact Bacardi went so far as to lobby for the Bacardi Act - which outlawed any Cuban copyrights in the United States.
Today, Bacardi’s operations generate $5 billion revenues annually through brands like Bacardi Rum, Grey Goose, Patrón, Bombay Sapphire, Martini among others and operates in 150 nations. Not bad for a company that once had all its assets seized by Fidel Castro’s communist army. Bacardi keeps adding new brands internationally.
Bacardi in fact has moved it advertising focus to the ‘Bacardi Experiences’ linking up with artists like Major Lazer and Swizz Beats (Their ‘Chief Culture Officer’ yeah idk what it means either) to curate events around the world. In India the best example of this is Bacardi NH7 Weekender.
Bacardi is the largest privately-held spirits company in the world, run by the family for 7 generations. It has seen success, loss and more recently stagnation. The latter has made Bacardi question it’s heritage focused business strategy and look to the future - Independent local brands. Will it succeed in reviving its business, only time will tell.