Bacardi Uses Facebook Likes to Curate Event Content, Drum Up Buzz for Upcoming Shows

By Anna Sekula June 8, 2011, 10:45 AM EDT

Photo: Jika González for BizBash

Bacardi's "Like It Live, Like It Together" Kickoff Promotion
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There's little doubt social media is a valuable strategic tool for event marketers, especially for those looking to find new and inventive ways to marry online efforts with in-person gatherings. For Bacardi, Facebook is one of the platforms it uses to interact with its target consumer, but the rum brand wanted to create something more experiential, and devised a campaign centered around the site's “like” function. Dubbed “Like It Live, Like It Together,” the promotion kicked off with a public stunt on Thursday and will include two live-music events later this month.

Focused on getting people out from behind their computers to socialize in real life, Bacardi worked collaboratively with Facebook to plan and execute a virtual program that would drive a series of offline parties. “We started looking at what our consumer likes on Facebook. We know they like music—hip-hop—they like drinks, and they like pizza. But how do you bring that to life? ” said Bacardi senior brand manager Billy Melnyk. “So we decided to have a 'like-off,' where people vote for one thing versus another, and use that to curate events.”

The face-to-face gatherings hosted by the spirits company will take place in New York on June 13 and Las Vegas on June 15, and the winning likes from Facebook will shape the content—from the lineup of musical acts to the food served and activities for guests. To give the public a taste of how it works and what the shows will entail, Bacardi used some of the top picks at last week's launch in the meatpacking district's Gansevoort Plaza. For instance, fans voted for pizza trucks over taco trucks, so the organizers brought in Midtown favorite Jiannetto's to serve Sicilian-style pies from their truck. To slam-dunk basketballs, there was N.B.A. great John Starks, while four Playboy playmates had a pillow fight. To close out the hour-long promotion, Queens rapper Nas took the stage—a giant skateboard—to belt out a few of his hits, along with some new ones from his upcoming album Life Is Good.

But, the concept goes beyond the Thursday event and the mid-June shows. “The idea is that we're going to have these two events, one on the East Coast and one on the West Coast, show the consumer how we did it, and then launch something called Together Tools on Facebook. It's a widget, a proprietary product we built with Facebook, that people can use to create their own events by grouping together 'likes,'” said Melnyk.

Since launching the “Like It Live” campaign a month ago, Bacardi has seen a a boost in Facebook fans. “We've doubled our Facebook fans—we were at about 300,000, and when I checked this morning, we were at 652,000,” Melnyk said at the Gansevoort Plaza event. “But our goal is not just to get more numbers, but obviously the right people and the people who are interested in our brand. We want to support the people who are social initiators. They might not be the most influential for fashion or other things, but they're the ones throwing and planning parties.”

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