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Rafael Nadal: Global Social Responsibility Ambassador for Bacardi Limited

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In a recent interview with Robert Furniss-Roe, Regional President of Bacardi North America and President of Bacardi U.S.A. Inc., we discussed the company's CSR efforts, the appointment of Rafael Nadal as their new global social responsibility ambassador, and much more.

In 2011, Mr. Furniss-Roe was appointed Regional President of Bacardi North America with responsibility for leading all operations of the largest region of the company. Immediately prior, he served as Regional President for Latin America and Vice President of Global Sales and Corporate Communications for Bacardi.

Rahim Kanani: Describe a little bit about Bacardi Limited's CSR campaign with the appointment of U.S. Open Champion Rafael Nadal as your Global Social Responsibility Ambassador.

Robert Furniss-Roe: As the largest privately held spirits company in the world, Bacardi is committed to educating legal drinking age consumers about responsible drinking to ensure they can make informed choices about how they consume alcohol.

Bacardi is known as a pioneer in the social responsibility arena as the Company has had a strong heritage of promoting responsible drinking since its first advertising campaign focused solely on this topic in Mexico in the 1930s - long before social responsibility was on the radar.

In fact, the "Champions Drink Responsibly" campaign and other CSR campaigns, builds upon both the community and social responsibility initiatives and heritage of the Bacardi family and Company since before its founding in Santiago de Cuba in 1862 - nearly 150 years ago.

We are excited and proud to promote the award-winning global responsible drinking campaign, "Champions Drink Responsibly" and to celebrate Rafael Nadal as the Bacardi Limited Global Social Responsibility Ambassador, in New York City, just a week before the U.S. Open championships.

As the Global Social Responsibility Ambassador and face of the "Champions Drink Responsibly" campaign, Rafa allows Bacardi Limited to capture the world's attention with an instantly recognizable and admired personality to take the social responsibility message even farther than before. With Rafa, "Champions Drink Responsibly" focuses on its core responsible drinking message, inviting consumers to follow the "Champions Way," making responsible choices to ensure everyone's safety and enjoyment.

The "Champions Way" is about encouraging consumers to behave and act responsibly and in doing so they will enjoy a memorable time out -- while making responsible decisions about the consumption of alcohol. Responsible actions are planning your night out; savoring your drink, choosing quality over quantity; taking breaks between drinks -- all to ensure you and your friends get home safely. Enjoying a memorable time out by drinking responsibly is the way of a Champion.

"Champions Drink Responsibly" is a multi-media campaign launched by family-owned Bacardi Limited in 2008. Rafa follows 7-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher as the campaign's global spokesperson. "Champions Drink Responsibly" demonstrates the Bacardi commitment to communicating important social responsibility messages relating to the consumption of its products.

Rahim Kanani: What was the reason behind choosing Rafael Nadal to lead this global charge?

Robert Furniss-Roe: To help the Company spread this important message, we enlisted this global superstar, one of the world's elite athletes, at the pinnacle of his sport. Rafa Nadal is a respected professional and a global role model for millions -- someone whose example perfectly reflects the values of the campaign.

Also, Rafa is personally committed to the campaign. A true professional, Rafa's own lifestyle reflects the purpose of our campaign and he is dedicated to spreading the message of responsible drinking - planning the night out; savoring the drink, choosing quality over quantity; taking breaks between drinks; and ensuring all get home safely.

Rahim Kanani: What are some of the ways in which Bacardi Limited has engaged with communities and social responsibility in the past?

Robert Furniss-Roe: "Champions Drink Responsibly" was launched in April 2008 and marked the first Bacardi Limited global social responsibility campaign to educate consumers about responsible drinking. To date, the campaign has been engaging legal drinking age adults throughout the world through digital and traditional media and events. This campaign builds upon corporate and social responsibility initiatives and heritage of the Bacardi family and Company since its founding in Santiago de Cuba in 1862.

Since its launch, the campaign has been active worldwide and has already engaged more than 37 million consumers. Bacardi has launched new advertising featuring Rafa as the Champion and these advertisements illustrate aspects of responsible drinking.

"Champions Drink Responsibly" continues to engage consumers through a variety of traditional media, public relations, consumer experiential activities, and digital channels - as most consumers are online and very social  - including YouTube®, with its own dedicated channel at www.youtube.com/bacardiltdchampions. We have launched a "Champions Drink Responsibly" Facebook page. I encourage consumers to 'like' our page and support responsible drinking. It is also supported by www.championsdrinkresponsibly.com, where consumers can learn recipes for alcohol-free cocktails and discover useful tips on enjoying a night out responsibly.  In addition, Bacardi will be hosting external events with Rafa at a number of ATP and Grand Slam tournaments during the year.

Rahim Kanani: How do you measure the success of your campaign efforts?

Robert Furniss-Roe: Bacardi measures success in a variety of ways including global scale and scope of the "Champions Drink Responsibly" campaign, number of legal drinking aged consumers we touch and engage with our messaging, as well as industry acceptance and support of this corporate program.  Behavior cannot be changed overnight, but Bacardi believes a credible ambassador can be very influential.  That is something that Bacardi as a corporate entity believes in, which is why Rafael Nadal will be supporting this campaign for an initial three years, and Michael Schumacher supported it for three years before that.  Bacardi Limited is in this for the long-term we remain committed to educating our consumers about responsible drinking.

A few highlights that showcase the successes:
  • "Champions Drink Responsibly" has successfully engaged with more than 37 million people worldwide through marketing and traditional and social media activities around the message 'Drinking and Driving Don't Mix'. The campaign has even been recognized for its success and has won two awards.
  • "Champions Drink Responsibly" was launched in the Brussels Autoworld Museum in 2008 where seven-time Formula One TM world champion Michael Schumacher was unveiled as the first Bacardi Limited Global Social Responsibility Ambassador. The event received high-level political endorsement with the EU Transport Commissioner witnessing the signing of the European Road Safety Charter by Bacardi Limited.
  • In October 2009, the Bacardi Limited Champions Drink Responsibly campaign was awarded Corporate Social Responsibility Campaign of the Year at the Public Relations Consultants Association Awards 2009. This follows its earlier achievement in winning the Best International Communication at the European Excellence Awards 2008, seen by many as a gold standard in the public relations industry.
Rahim Kanani: As the newly appointed Regional President of Bacardi North America, and leading all operations of the largest region of the company, what are your plans to build on the company's history of civic, communal and employee engagement towards social responsibility?

Robert Furniss-Roe: Bacardi Limited encourages the global operating companies to invest 2-5% of their A&P in Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. Each Region approaches their commitment to CR differently.  Social and Corporate Responsibility is built into all different aspects of our business - marketing and community relations.

In the U.S., we will continue to work very closely with The Century Council who is a leader in the fight against drunk driving and underage drinking and promotes responsible decision making regarding beverage alcohol.

Bacardi USA remains committed to the communities that we live and work in, and in the U.S. alone we contribute more than $2 million a year to charitable organizations. The areas we focus on are Education, the Environment, Health and Social Services, Arts and Culture.

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Rahim Kanani is founder and editor-in-chief of World Affairs Commentary, where he authors articles on international affairs and social change, and interviews global leaders on topics such as human rights, development, security, philanthropy, innovation, education, and more. A full biography can be found here. Follow Rahim Kanani on Twitter @rahimkanani. Have an idea for a great interview? Email rahim@rahimkanani.com.