Bacardi have taken brand storytelling to the next level, launching an online graphic novel this week that recounts the lurid history of the Bacardi family. Entitled ‘The Spirit of Bacardi’, it focuses on the life story of Emilio Bacardi, the son of the company’s founder, and marks the first collaboration between the brand and writer Warren Ellis and artist Mike Allred, both respected figures in the world of comic books.
“Obviously [Emilio Bacardi] could lead a fairly comfortable life,” Ellis told ComicBook.com. “Instead he works with the rebels, helps establish an underground, gets sent to prison (and is lucky not to be shot), comes back, deals with a new occupational force, works them, becomes instrumental in establishing local democracy. What made him interesting was his deeply held sense of what he called ‘obligation’. He was privileged, he knew it, and he wanted to use it in order to serve. I like that.”
The novel’s tagline is “You can’t make this up”, and the entire project is a continuation of Bacardi’s ‘Untameable Since 1862’ campaign. “We know consumers enjoy content from brands when it’s entertaining and when it’s genuine and authentic,” says Bacardi’s Senior Global Director, Dmitry Ivanov. “They like brands with substance, who are real, and who have a certain attitude to life.”
Bacardi isn’t the first brand to choose this incredibly popular medium as a platform. Back in 2012, AXE Body Spray crowd-sourced an interactive comic book entitled ‘AXE Anarchy’, a tale of sexy female cops doing sexy things, presumably because the brand’s target demographic is adolescent boys. In 2013, Fanta partnered with Ogilvy to launch a similarly interactive comic for younger readers. Other brands which have experimented with the graphic novel as a brand storytelling tool include Nike, Peugeot and Absolut.