Bacardi restructures marketing to ‘bring accountability closer to the front line’

Bacardi has brought back the global CMO role as it looks to go back to a “pure brand approach” and ensure its marketing teams are living the brands.

Bacardi’s new global CMO John Burke is restructuring the drinks giant’s marketing department to “drive accountability as low as we can go” in order to foster more responsive marketing.

At an event on Thursday (8 February) Burke told Marketing Week: “We’re driving accountability as low as we can go, as close to the front line as possible, so we can create a really really responsive marketing organisation that can make real change.”

He added: “We are trying to create an environment where people are genuinely empowered to make a difference. We see ourselves as a small company with big brands which means when you work on one of our brands you can make a massive impact as soon as you get your hands on them. This is because there is no corporate machine in the background that you have to get dozens of approvals from.”

In 2015, Bacardi scrapped the role of global CMO arguing it was unnecessary as it looked to bring brands closer to their markets.

READ MORE: Bacardi moves to ‘brands, not categories’ as it shakes up marketing structure

The appointment of Burke, who was previously president of incubation brands for Bacardi, comes after the retirement of former CEO Mike Dolan who had a background in marketing where new CEO Mahesh Madhavan does not.

“Dolan came from a marketing background so he could wear both hats, as it were, whereas Mahesh doesn’t so there’s a need for the role again,” Burke explained.

Burke has only been in role for a few months but says his previous role working with Bacardi’s smaller brands has heavily influenced how he approaches the role of global CMO. He explained: “The beauty of working on smaller start-up brands is you touch all sides of the brand. I am slightly unhealthily obsessed about living the brand and we’ve gone back to the pure brand approach.

“We’ve reorganised our teams into dedicated brand teams and removed the portfolio clusters and category approach. This means if you work on Bacardi you wake up every morning and you’re thinking about the Bacardi brand, if you work on Bombay Sapphire every morning you wake up thinking about Bombay Sapphire.”

Burke describes his strategy as having ‘three horizons’: rebuild, release and transform. Burke said: “For rebuild its about taking our communications ideas into fully formed platform ideas that work across marketing and communication channels. So storytelling acts on events which acts on moments on social media with finally the nudge to purchase. We’re about halfway through that phase right now.

“Release is about building a strong functional capability and planning within the teams. Lastly we want to transform and release the organisation to empower the markets to perform”.

Bacardi is developing a new programme to upskill the organisation that will begin in May as part of the ‘release’ aspect of its strategy.

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