Bacardi-Brown Forman brands (BBF) and Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) have joined forces to promote a new spirit and mixer drink to UK pubs and bars.
As part of a long-term strategic alliance between the two drinks companies, Bacardi Vanilla Coke (BVC) - a combination of a 35ml measure of Bacardi Carta Blanca and a separate 200ml contour glass bottle of Vanilla Coke - is to be the focus of a joint on-trade marketing push.
BVC has gained a strong following in the United States where it is reportedly an established bar call and Bruce Ray, director of trade marketing at BBF, believes the new combination will prove a success over here.
"The BVC's deliciously smooth, creamy taste has been loved by consumers in taste tests. Significantly it is only the second change to the world's favourite cocktail, the Bacardi and Coke, since it was first mixed in a bar in Havana, Cuba in 1898.
"We have a great relationship with the team at Coke," he added, "and this is the first of many initiatives we are bringing to the market. This not only benefits both of us, but importantly, it will deliver ongoing valuable profit opportunities."
CCE launched Vanilla Coke last year in the take-home sector and an introduction into the on-trade had been earmarked for early 2004. But the opportunity to link-up with Bacardi, and piggy-back the brand's extensive distribution (approximately 96 per cent) was an opportunity too good to miss according to Rob Sutton, CCE's channel marketing controller.
"The relationship with Bacardi and the runaway success of Vanilla Coke in the off-trade has brought forward the on-trade launch by several months," he said. "We are first and foremost a soft drinks company, but in this environment we're looking to establish our brands as the ideal mixer and help consumers with what they're already doing.
"It's a highly logical link-up and it will help licensees in terms of the perfect serve, consumer uptake and profitability."
Both Mr Sutton and Mr Ray were keen to dismiss suggestions that the new initiative was a precursor to a launch of a similar premium packaged spirit concept.
The efforts of the BBF salesforce, who will begin pushing the new concept to licensees from mid-July, will be supplemented by separate national TV advertising for both brands as well as point-of-sale material specific to pubs and bars aimed at raising consumer awareness.