It was one of the first September nights in New York City when you actually needed a jacket, but inside Brother Jimmy’s in Union Square the scene was quite warm, you might even say spicy.
On Sept. 15 Bacardi hosted a launch party for its new OakHeart Spiced Rum (check out this issue’s Showcase section). But this party wasn’t the typical media briefing for a new spirit launch. This was more like a challenge—the “OakHeart Challenge” to be exact. Between the hours of 6 and 11 p.m. the challenge was to get 25,000 people across the country to sample and celebrate the launch of this new, spiced rum. In New York City, brand master Juan Coronado made his rounds to a number of the 10-plus participating venues that were serving OakHeart neat or OakHeart and cola, among other cocktails.
At Brother Jimmy’s we enjoyed OakHeart and cola with an array of hickory wood smoked barbeque platters and southern-style specialties including hush puppies and Carolina pulled pork. (Fried pickles with horseradish dipping sauce and spiced rum make a great pairing, by the way.)
Talk about a sampling event! Bacardi’s nationwide initiative falls perfectly into the resurgence of the spiced rum segment over the past year or so where flavored and spiced rums are driving the growth in the overall rum category, according to Adams Handbook. (More than half of all new rums last year were flavored rums. In 2010 other new entrants to the segment included Blackheart Premium Spiced Rum, BlackBeard Spiced Rum and Kraken Black Spiced Rum.)
On the market today, there are roughly 50 spiced rums, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) reports. And in 2010, spiced rum accounted for 33 percent of rum category volume—that’s about 9.2 million cases.
Just as we’ve seen in the soft drink category, it seems that flavors and variety are what consumers continue to crave.
So, you’re probably wondering what the final turnout was for the OakHeart Challenge. The numbers are in: More than 28,000 conumers sampled OakHeart on Sept. 15 in 13 different markets including Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, New York, Nevada, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Washington, D.C. and Wisconsin. The challenge, designed to “bring the brand to life,” did just that. In addition to getting consumers out and sampling OakHeart, Bacardi added more than 58,000 Facebook fans that day. To take the brand’s social media initiative to the next level of consumer involvement, a contest was created on Facebook where consumers come up with a three-word toast for OakHeart Spiced Rum. Then, after they “Like” Bacardi on Facebook they can enter to win an OakHeart stein. The contest is open until Nov. 23.
Looks like legal age drinking consumers are ready to spice things up.