EUCAM - European Centre for Monitoring Alcohol Marketing

Bacardi US: In violation of their own regulations?

5 April 2011

Bacardi US: In violation of their own regulations? Last month Bacardi Limited has started a marketing campaign advocating responsible drinking. The campaign prominently features the world’s number one tennis player Raphael Nadal. The slogan for the campaign is ‘Champions drink responsible’, which might be in breach of Bacardi’s voluntary marketing regulations.

As a member of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) Bacardi has to uphold the codes that are recorded in the Code of Responsible Practices for Beverage Alcohol Advertising and Marketing. Rule number seventeen reads as follows:

‘Beverage alcohol advertising and marketing materials should contain no claims or representations that individuals can attain social, professional, educational, or athletic success or status as a result of beverage alcohol consumption.’

While not stating that Nadal is a tennis champion because he drinks Bacardi, the slogan of the new campaign does assure the public that champions do indeed drink. This does instill a strong link between athletic and social success and drinking.

The first two rules of the Code of Responsible Practices for Beverage Alcohol Advertising and Marketing state that alcohol advertisements are intended for adults and may not in any way be ‘directed or primarily appealing to persons below the legal purchase age.’ Though perhaps not primarily, it is plausible that Nadal has many fans that are below the legal purchase age. This is something Bacardi has deliberately and very conveniently forgot to take into account.

Bacardi may very well state that they deliberately use a healthy, successful athletic roll model for their responsible drinking campaign in order to target young people and warn them of the dangers of irresponsible drinking. Yet it seems this was not possible without using the Bacardi logo, trademark and product depiction, thus making this more a Bacardi advertisement than a sincere health warning.

This new campaign is a prime example of how the alcohol industry bends their voluntary restrictions to their own needs and how in doing so they connect alcohol with sportsmanship and corporate responsibility.

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