The Drum Awards for Marketing - Entry Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

Author

By Katie Deighton | Senior Reporter

August 10, 2016 | 4 min read

Pernod Ricard’s Havana Club is embracing its Cuban roots and using virtual reality in order to do so within its pop up experience.

The alcohol brand is prizing its authenticity above all else at its current London pop-up experience, and senior brand manager Liam Murphy believes it’s up to the brand “to expose Cuba to the masses” as the country continues to open its borders.

Speaking to The Drum within one of the pop-up’s many themed rooms, Murphy explained the challenge of selling Havana Club as a Cuban lifestyle brand is separating its marketing from the traditional tourist tropes of old cars and cocktails – although to latter obviously cannot be ignored.

“The increased focus on Cuba is really exciting for the brand,” he said. “People are starting to realise what an unbelievable destination Cuba is. And once you really scratch underneath there is a huge amount of culture to explore.

“As a brand that's entrenched within their culture and society, it's up to us to try and really expose that to the masses.”

Digitally, Havana Club has used Instagram as a starting point to express its “authenticity”, eschewing the standard squares of well-filtered cocktails for original photos of Cuban streets, locals and wildlife. “It's shots that you wouldn't have seen on Google or online before,” explained Murphy.

The brand also isn’t new to physical experiences, having activated pop-ups at the likes of Taste of London and Rumfest previously. This summer’s offering however, is arguably its biggest standalone experience.

Casa Havana London’s Bateman Street scratches the cultural surface through three themes: drink, food and colour. The brand has partnered with Street Feast founder Dom Cools-Lartigue to produce a menu inspired by classics such as the Cuban sandwich and seabass ceviche, while global brand ambassador and Cuban native Meimi Sanchez put together the cocktail list. Local artists have been enlisted create works down in the basement to bring to life the ‘colour’ component

The “final piece” of the jigsaw for Murphy is an immersive true virtual reality experience produced by Found Studio. Inspired by the idea of immersive theatre, the VR is housed in an authentic Cuban storeroom and whisks participants away to the same room in Havana.

“There's a number of brands that are trying to integrate virtual reality into activity they're doing but we've found a genuine reason to do it here,” said Murphy. “For us it's all about trying to transport people to Cuba and the VR gives a literal vehicle to do that without physically flying everyone over there.”

The pop-up forms part of Havana Club’s strategy to ‘re-establish integrity and balance’ in the brand, alongside a new visual identity of its Club 7 variety

Much like the new visual identity of its Club 7 variety hopes to ‘re-establish integrity and balance’ in the brand, the Pernod Ricard label wants the pop-up to strongly communicate authenticity to its audience in London and beyond (it “amplifies everything [on social media] to the Nth degree”, according to Murphy).

Its connections to Cuba cannot be doubted – it still produces the rum there, and is part owned by the island’s government – however its challenge will be to watch out for rival Bacardi, whose CMO announced in May plans to start pushing his brands’ heritage further by opening up the real estate that belongs to its luxury spirits.

Marketing Havana Club Pernod Ricard

Other episodes in the series

Episode 1

Cadbury unleashes the moo of its animatronic cow to promote bovine adoption promo

Cadbury Dairy Milk took to the ever-popular activation spot of the Southbank this week with an animatronic cow in order to promote its Buttons brand’s bovine adoption scheme.

Episode 2

‘Alexa, order me a cocktail’: Diageo and Dentsu Aegis test voice activation in the connected bar

Connected devices, the internet of things and voice activation: all innovations the modern marketer usually confines to the bounds of the home. But in Cannes this year Diageo has teamed up with Dentsu Aegis agencies Isobar and iProspect to bring these technologies into a new consumer market: the bar.

Episode 3

Welcome to the mind of Mark Denton: a look at the work in his Art Mart gallery

The extraordinary creative mind that is Mark Denton has his own art gallery – a grocery shop styled show in Shoreditch, London.

Episode 4

Inside the San Miguel Experience: why the brand is investing in immersive events

San Miguel launched its Rich List campaign earlier this year in a bid to celebrate individuals who have dedicated their lives to seeking our new experiences. Now the beer purveyor is turning to live events to help recruit applicants.

Episode 5

‘It’s not a political statement’: why Publicis is celebrating immigration through artwork

Visit Publicis’ London office on Baker Street throughout August and you’ll find yourself in the midst of an art gallery curated to celebrate the creative lifeblood that immigrants – and the children of immigrants – bring to British culture. However the show should not be read as a political statement, according to the agency’s chief executive.

Episode 6

New York's window displays reviewed by Deutsch head of design Roger Bova

Holiday window displays by big retailers make the season sparkle, with shoppers mesmerized by the shiny details that go into each exhibit.

Episode 7

Behind the scenes of EasyJet's last minute Christmas campaign

On a snowy December morning outside of Terminal One of Gatwick Airport, Santa was seen clambering up and down an escalator without a reindeer close by.

Episode 8

ABB on why its title sponsorship of Formula E is as much about brand reputation as awareness

Tech company ABB hopes its title sponsorship of Formula E will finally make it a global name. But the deal is also fuelled by an authentic support of the race’s underlying philosophy – in spite of its political and sporting controversies.

Episode 9

#TrumpBaby takes flight – and proves the brand-building case for crowdfunding

Today (13 July) saw a rotund orange pocket of air fly above London’s Parliament Square in protest of Donald Trump’s visit to the UK. The huge media interest in the event has proven that crowdfunding a creative idea can not only work but can build a solid brand for the project in the process.

Episode 10

Panasonic wants consumers to adopt a ‘buy less, respect more’ approach to tech

Panasonic Design’s dark but calming installation at the London Design Biennale encapsulates the brand’s refreshed approach to tech – one that connects less with 20th century consumerism and more with the Japanese approach to care and respect.

More from Marketing

View all