Bacardi sees its support of independent music act as a means of connecting with Indian consumers, particularly with ads for alcoholic beverages being banned in the nation. Bacardi has previously organised Bacardi Blasts, B’Live gigs and Bacardi NH7 Weekender, one of the biggest platforms for independent musicians in the country.
Anshuman Goenka, the head of marketing for Bacardi India, says that the 157-year-old brand is built on great experiences, and many are hinged on great music.
He also observes that music knows no boundaries and brands increasingly starting to latch on to this emerging trend because it allows them to communicate to a wider target audience by curating meaningful experiences.
“Having been at the center of India’s indie music scene, we at Bacardi have also evolved from hosting indie artists at Bacardi NH7 Weekender, to now being a platform that identifies and nurtures this upcoming talent,” he tells The Drum.
“Music has not only opened avenues for brands to own a space and host platforms that are globally known, but it has also built certain equity that reinforces a stronger connection, one that consumers and audiences recall, over a period of time.”
Going beyond music festivals, Bacardi stepped up to create the music by shifting its focus to the artist, through Bacardi House Party Sessions (BHPS), which it launched in 2017. Through BHPS, the brand mentors and guides independent musicians right from the creation of their songs to the promotion of the videos created.
In its first season, BHPS produced music for the likes of ‘Udd Gaye’ by artist Ritviz which clocked over 17m views and was mentored by Nucleya, as well artists like pop singer-songwriter Aarya (No Game with more than 600,000 views) and bass music producer MojoJojo, whose collaboration with rapper Sikander Kahlon Chak Bass has garnered more than 897,000 plays.
In its second season, BHPS is working with artists like Zenith & Charan, who are being mentored by Benny Dayal, Ape Echoes by Mohini Dey, as well as Pull mentored by Amit Trivedi.
“The way we see it, the average time taken for an artist to ‘make it big in the music scene’, is close to 13 years. Most artists start by playing at friends’ houses, then local parties, hopefully moving on to club gigs and then, if they are fortunate, they break out as an artist,” explains Goenka.
“What comes next is the need for a record label, who would be willing to invest in their music, followed by the artist paying back the record label for their investment.”
Goenka also points out in this entire process, the artist loses relevance, the time spent in the studio starts to dwindle and, eventually, so does their acclaim and popularity. That is why BHPS was created to take these challenges head on.
“Bacardi believes that there is an exceptional amount of creative musical talent in India that is waiting to show the world how good they are and how great they can be. BHPS is our way of giving back to these artists who have helped us move audiences, by supporting them in doing what truly moves them,” he adds.
Goenka is under no illusion that building equity takes years of both consistent interest and investment, and seeing real impact requires long-term assessment. He says with investments like BHPS, Barcadi looks at the benefits from such campaigns like brand uplift scores and other equity parameters using measuring tools.
There is also the joy of bringing to the forefront the indie talent in the country and seeing them shine on global platforms, he adds, pointing out that Barcadi wants to be known as a brand that nurtures an ecosystem for independent music to grow in the country. He adds every step closer foster engagement within the community and audiences.
“The increase in engagement that we’ve been garnering on digital platforms, the artist’s familiarity across regions and sheer audience love at BNH7 Weekender, where these songs are sung along within a week of their release, are testament to our efforts and investments,” explains Goenka.
Circumventing Indian alcohol ad restrictions
Ads for alcoholic beverages are banned in India, but alcohol companies often use private channels to advertise using surrogate means like selling the brand name for soda or water or in Bacardi's case, music festivals.
Goenka admits India is a challenging market which encourages the brand to find innovative and interesting ways to connect with its consumers. That is why Bacardi functions on a unique content-creator model wherein it works with artists like comedians, dancers and musicians, and allow them to curate their content while keeping the brand ethos in mind which is ‘Do what moves you’.
This encourages the artists to do their thing, without fear of interference from the brand, he says.
“Digitally, this approach works well with audiences who identify with our campaigns much more, when the artist is the hero of the story. It ensures that our content is original and more relevant, especially for millennial viewers. BHPS itself has taken off entirely through a digital approach, with the name now being synonymous with independent music in India.”
He stresses that this does not deter the brand from going beyond the digital sphere, where it took BHPS on-ground through the Bacardi Sessions stage at Bacardi NH7 Weekender, where winning artists from BHPS went on to headline acts and perform alongside the global BHPS artists.
“While digital helped us spread the noise with the right audiences, taking these artists on-ground helped us tap the segment that prefers this music live, besides increasing visibility for the incredible talent we see emerging now. A combination of both mediums is what we believe will really sustain our work,” he adds.
Having previously teamed up with Swizz Beatz as its first global chief creative for culture, the brand's mission to sell “more than just bottles and cocktails” has spread to the Asia Pacific.