- Bacardi is auctioning its first nonfungible token (NFT) upon the release of its limited-edition rum Reserva Ocho Sherry Cask Finish, according to an announcement. Both the auction and product will go live starting Sept. 1.
- The NFT will showcase Bacardi's new cask finish rum — the first in a series of five to be released annually through 2025 — through digital effects and interactive motion graphics designed by celebrity photographer Cam Kirk. An auction for the asset will run for two weeks on a brand microsite, and Bacardi will donate the proceeds to "Backing the B.A.R.," an initiative it co-sponsors with the NAACP to support Black-owned establishments in their pursuit of liquor licenses.
- The announcement arrives on National Rum Day (Aug. 16) as Bacardi hopes to link excitement for its NFT to interest in its new product amid growing sales for premium rums.
Bacardi's NFT announcement sees the company tying a one-off collectible to a limited-edition product. NFTs are unduplicable assets developed via blockchain technology that have garnered particular attention from the art-collecting world. By pairing an NFT auction with Reserva Ocho Sherry Cask Finish, the spirits company is emphasizing rarity to excite consumers ahead of its new premium rum, which was aged in an oak barrel for eight to 12 years and then finished in a sherry cask for two months to add complexity to the flavor.
The rum category grew 5.9% in 2020, with 7.5% of the revenue increase attributed to premium rums, per Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. data cited in the announcement. As Bacardi looks to expand growth at the top of the category, other alcohol companies are making similar efforts. Molson Coors, for example, cut 11 of its economy brands earlier this month to focus on its more premium offerings.
"This is something we've never done before for any other product launch, and since this is the first of a five-year Cask Finish series, and the first product innovation since our premium portfolio launch in 2018, we knew it had to be extra special," said Lisa Pfenning, vice president of Bacardi North America, in emailed comments to Marketing Dive.
Marketers across categories are increasingly embracing NFTs as tools to spice up campaigns with a trendy digital offering. Brands like E.l.f., Asics and Campbell's have recently leveraged NFTs, although how the technology will fit into longer-term brand strategies is still to be determined. Bacardi plans to release more NFTs in the future, including a second in the coming months, per Pfenning.
The auction will exist through a microsite requiring consumers to enter their email address to stay tuned in with the bidding. Microsites for contests and giveaways have become a popular tactic for brands looking to acquire first-party data as other data collecting mechanisms, such as Apple's IDFA and Google's third-party cookies, are phasing out.
Proceeds from the auction of the Sherry Cask NFT will go toward "Backing the B.A.R.," Bacardi's partnership with the NAACP. Donations to charity are common components of NFT-powered campaigns and add a more meaningful purpose behind the buzzy tech.
Other details from the announcement could help to drive interest in Bacardi's limited-edition rum. The NFT will be created by celebrity photographer Cam Kirk, whose reputation shooting notable hip-hop figures and large social media following could help to expand Bacardi's reach. The announcement also arrives on a day of significance to the company's product — National Rum Day — which is a tactic brands can use to further excite devoted consumers.