Five brilliant failures from the creator of Baileys

A shot at beating Bacardi

Picture source: ‘That S*it Will Never Sell!’

Invited by IDV in 1985 to create “an idea for a white rum that might really attack Bacardi,” Gluckman looked for a chink in the latter brand’s armour.

Having done a couple of focus groups, he learned that Bacardi was “about tropical paradises with palm trees”, and it was “perceptibly sweeter than vodka” – and “very sweet indeed” when blended with Coke, while, “at 38% alcohol it was below the standard level for stronger spirits”.

In short, Gluckman discovered that Bacardi had “strong feminine appeal”, so he decided to devise a new rum with a strong masculine persona.

This would be done by creating something “significantly drier in taste” as well as “higher in alcohol”, and, in terms of source, a rum from Australia: “Australia was about as macho as you could get and it had recently been put on the map by the film Crocodile Dundee which was taking America by storm.

The new rum, which would be made from freshly-pressed cane juice, not “treacly molasses like Bacardi”, would be called Stubbs – which was “a name from our archive”.

“The design, by the late Howard Waller, was stunning”, adds Gluckman.

However, the IDV team “failed to engage the local Australian company in selling it in their market, which would be the Stubbs homeland. That was a major error.”

“Perhaps the bigger error was not engaging the key target market, the US, in any stage of this process,” he then says.

“The Americans were never really on board and so for Stubbs, the music died. The Bacardi people could relax, for a while anyway. A pity, really. It was such a good idea.”

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