Bacardi is one of the world's biggest premium spirits, and the best-selling rum by far, with almost 50% share of the huge US market. As a result of Bacardi's success, and the purchase of several other brands including Martini, Dewar's, Bombay Sapphire and premium vodka Grey Goose, its parent company has become one of the world's top spirits businesses. Yet unlike virtually all of the larger competitors jostling it for position, Bacardi Limited is still privately controlled by the family which founded it over 150 years ago in Cuba. It has long been regarded as a prime candidate for merger with another company, possibly Brown-Forman, a distribution partner in several markets.
Selected Bacardi advertising
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|Dewar's Scotch||42 Below|
|Tequila Cazadores||Bacardi Breezer|
|Grey Goose||Bacardi Silver|
|Bombay Sapphire||Noilly Prat|
Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Oct 2017: Madhesh Madhavan took over from Mike Dolan as global CEO of Bacardi six months earlier than planned. At the same time, John Burke was promoted to the role of global chief marketing officer. That role has been vacant since 2015, when marketing duties were split on a regional basis.
Adbrands Weekly Update 29th Jun 2017: Ads Of The Week: "Play With Time". Travel with us along the coast from the Cannes Lions Festival, over the border at Ventimiglia and into la Bella Italia. Leave the dust from the festival to settle, and instead let's meet up for an aperitivo. As a drink, Martini is arguably something of an acquired taste, but this gorgeous film from AMV BBDO has universal appeal. A lovely and refreshing break after all that relentless networking.
Adbrands Weekly Update 9th Mar 2017: Bacardi CEO and corporate veteran Mike Dolan - also formerly CEO of Y&R and IMG - announced plans to retire in April 2018, though he will remain a director until 2019. His designated successor is Mahesh Madhavan, who has spent two decades at Bacardi, most recently as president for the Asia, Middle East & Africa region. Madhavan transfers immediately to the role of regional CEO for Europe, pending elevation to the top job next year. At the same time, North America CMO Mauricio Vergara is appointed to a new role as SVP, commercial development, Bacardi USA. Current Europe CMO Shane Hoyne adds North America to his remit.
Adbrands Weekly Update 26th May 2016: Bacardi Group appointed Ogilvy Public Relations to take over PR for all its brands across Europe, transferring the business from several different incumbents. The assignment covers the main Bacardi brand and also Grey Goose, Bombay Sapphire, Dewar's and other spirits in the portfolio.
Adbrands Weekly Update 21st Jan 2016: President Obama's final State of the Union speech called on lawmakers to end the embargo on goods produced in Cuba, prompting the US Patent & Trademark Office to recognise for the first time Pernod-Ricard's rights to the Havana Rum name. The Castro government seized ownership of that famed product in the revolution, and now exports Havana Rum globally in a partnership with Pernod-Ricard. Except in the US, where Bacardi lays claim to the brand, which it claims to have acquired from the original owners when they fled Cuba. The latest detente between the US and Cuba is likely to give Pernod-Ricard's Havana Club access to the US for the first time later this year, prompting a furious response from Bacardi.
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Free for all users | see full profile for current activities: Spanish-born Facundo Bacardi Masso arrived in Cuba with his brothers in 1830, and began working as a salesman for a local rum distillery in Santiago. In his spare time he experimented with distilling lighter rums, but did little to exploit the results until the distillery's founder decided to sell up. In 1862, Facundo and brother Jose bought the business, renamed it Bacardi & Company, and launched their clear rum alongside the existing dark brands. Facundo's wife suggested the now famous "Bat device" as a logo after she noticed a colony of fruit bats living in the distillery. According to Cuban tradition, bats are symbols of good fortune, and the family hoped to borrow some of that luck. Whatever the reason, the company thrived.
By 1877, control of the business had passed to Facundo's son Emilio. At the time, Cuban nationals were becoming increasingly resentful of their dependence as a colony of Spain. Himself born in Cuba, Emilio Bacardi became heavily involved in political campaigning, and was repeatedly jailed during the 1880s. The movement for independence from Spain gathered momentum in the 1890s. Emilio was arrested again and sent into exile, leaving the company in the hands of his brothers who struggled to keep it running while political protest turned into a full-blown war of independence. The conflict with Spain was eventually resolved after Cuba won the support of America. Emilio was allowed back from exile in 1899, becoming mayor of his home town of Santiago in 1902 after the island was granted its freedom. In the years that followed Bacardi grew rapidly, opening bottling plants in Spain and the US. But the company's biggest boost came when the US government declared Prohibition, turning Cuba into a booming resort island, mainly because it was the nearest source of alcohol for booze-hungry Americans. The Daiquiri cocktail was invented at this time by American mining engineer Jennings Cox, while the US Army's Signal Corps are credited with mixing rum with imported Coca-Cola to create the drink known as Cuba Libre (or Free Cuba) in honour of its independence.
During the 1920s, the company introduced Hatuey, "the king of Cuban beer". The following decade saw the launch of new distilleries in Puerto Rico and Mexico. At the same time, following Emilio Bacardi's death, management of the company passed to his brother-in-law Henri Schueg. Inevitably World War II put a hold on the growth of the business, but the 1950s witnessed a massive surge in the international scale of the company. This was spearheaded by new company president Pepin Bosch, Schueg's son-in-law. By the end of the decade, Bacardi had become one of Cuba's biggest businesses. But as a result, it was also a principal target for a new wave of political unrest on the island, which finally exploded into revolution in 1959. Following Fidel Castro's overthrow of President Batista, all private assets in Cuba were seized by the revolutionary government. In the case of Bacardi, this was mainly the Hatuey breweries, since most of the company's rum was by now produced in Mexico and Puerto Rico. The family fled, and spent the early part of the 1960s rebuilding the business with new production facilities in Brazil, the Bahamas and Canada. To part-fund the reconstruction, 10% of the group's shares were floated. This led to a further rapid expansion of the business during the 1960s and 1970s, during which time Bacardi became the symbolic drink of the new international "jet-set".
But the scale of the group's business led to internal conflicts between the numerous family shareholders. By the 1970s, the company's shares were split between more than 500 family shareholders, all descendants of Don Facundo and his many sons and daughters, but also all divided over the size of each other's holdings. Pepin Bosch resigned in 1976 in one such dispute, and he and one part of the family sold their 12% shareholding to US drinks business Hiram Walker. International expansion continued, but so did the family squabbling, as new president Edwin Nielsen, Bosch's nephew, failed to hold the board together. In the 1980s, these squabbles were exacerbated by bad investments, losing the company $50m in 1986. New president Manuel Jorge Cutillas, another family member, oversaw a buyback of all non-family-controlled shares, costing some $241m.
The 1990s brought a completely new flavour to the business. The group relocated to Bermuda, and elected its first non-family president, former lawyer George "Chip" Reid, in 1996. But most important of all, the group spent $1.4bn in 1993 to acquire control of European spirits business Martini & Rossi. As a result of this acquisition, Bacardi gained a broad portfolio of spirits and liqueurs. The decade also saw the launch of Bacardi Breezers and Bacardi Limon, both hugely successful innovations, and the relaunch of Hatuey Beer in the US for the first time since the Cuban breweries were seized in 1960. After that, Bacardi bolstered its portfolio with other major acquisitions, including Dewar's Scotch and Bombay Gin in 1998 (from Diageo)for $1.9bn.
Controversy flared in 1999 with a court case over Bacardi's claims to another brand, Havana Club. Until 1959, this rum had been owned by another Cuban family, the Arechabalas, close rivals to the Bacardis for 100 years. But unlike the Bacardis, the Arechabala clan had no overseas interests in 1959. When the Castro government seized their distillery, they lost everything and had no money to re-establish their business in the US, or to renew their ownership of the Havana Club trademark in the US when rights lapsed in 1973. Instead the brand was re-registered as a commercial venture by the Cuban government. Nothing more happened until 1993, when the Cuban government transferred these rights to a new joint venture with French spirits group Pernod-Ricard, and launched the Havana Club rum everywhere except the US, because of that country's trade embargo with Cuba. Seizing the opportunity to get something of their heritage back, the remaining members of the Arechabala family tried to block the launch with the support of Bacardi, which introduced its own Havana Club in 1995. In the resulting lawsuit, a US judge upheld Bacardi's case, finding that the Havana Club name had been illegally seized by the Cuban government. In response Pernod Ricard took the case to the European Union, which backed the French company's case, and upheld its right to market rum under the Havana Club brand in Europe. The dispute is likely to drag on for many years.
In 1999 Bacardi revealed that it was considering a public offering of part of its stock in order to raise funding for further acquisitions. Pundits speculated that the group was preparing itself for a bid for Allied Domecq. However, the majority of shareholders failed to approve the plans, which were finally dismissed at the end of the month. The following year, in a move thought to be linked to the family's refusal to float the business, CEO Chip Reid resigned. Deals were back on the agenda in 2002. The company was reported to have been involved with talks for some time about some form of alliance with Allied Domecq. The question of altering the group's share structure to allow for a possible deal was revisited in 2003. Despite strong opposition from some family members, two-thirds of shareholders voted in favour of a plan to create a second class of non-voting shares which could be either floated or sold to a trade partner. Yet again, no larger deal materialized.
In 2004, the group's management team changed again. Chip Reid's replacement as CEO, Javier Ferran, quit the company in 2004, forcing chairman Ruben Rodriguez to take over that job as well until a successor could be found. Andreas Gembler, previously CEO of Philip Morris International, was finally appointed as CEO in May 2005, and Rodriguez stepped down from the group immediately afterwards, although he remains a director. Seamus McBride replaced Andreas Gembler as CEO of Bacardi in September 2008.
Former Gillette and P&G executive Ed Shirley succeeded Seamus McBride as CEO of Bacardi in 2012, but stepped down abruptly in Spring 2014. Stella David stepped down as global marketing officer in 2009 after 15 years in the role. She was eventually replaced in 2010 by former Unilever marketer Silvia Lagnado. She too left Bacardi at the end of 2012 and was succeeded in early 2013 by Andy Gibson. See full profile for current activities
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