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No soy cubano, but this Bacardi ad is in terrible taste

A new Bacardi advert referencing the prohibition era in the US
One among a range of new Bacardi ads
Sean Gibson, senior editor at Pandeia
Sean Gibson

SOMEONE AT BACARDI has got some nerve.

The multinational rum-maker has got a new marketing campaign, with some very loud posters playing fast and loose with aspects of Cuba’s complex recent history.

To save you squinting, the tagline to one particular advertisement (inset right) is this:

“In 1919, the U.S. banned the manufacture, sale and consumption of alcohol. The Bacardís had some ideas of their own. They invited Americans to Cuba for weekend-long parties.”

It is difficult to place where exactly this advertisement falls on the ‘arrogance-ignorance’ scale but regardless, it is deeply disturbing that someone thinks it’s now ‘cool’ to trumpet an association with how the US treated Cuba in the prohibition era (among all other eras, too).

One alternative perspective of how things really played out when the Bacardís et al ‘invited’ over American tourists is encapsulated in the 1964 film Soy Cuba (see clip below). Or you could read any number of good historical works – the reality is not very well hidden.

Cojones

Whatever you think about the merits of that Soviet-made film depicting American activity in Cuba (it depicts a lot else, too), the very least it shows is that some people saw and see that period of history in a very different way to Bacardí’s marketing department.

And one can only marvel at the size of those cojones, for Bacardi to self-identify as “Untameable”. The very fact of the company’s persistence and current lofty station is testament to how they were first in the queue to be tamed in the mid-20th century.

Of course, we all know that at a certain level of monetary commitment, an advertisement can transcend the ordinary levels of decency and appropriateness – Bacardi, it seems, have bought and refurbished the entirety of Angel tube station, down to the last ticket barrier, as part of the new campaign.

Come on man

Maybe it is not for a non-Cuban to ‘be offended’ by this, but the flagrant disregard for people’s history – and the humanity therein – is something that could concern any of us in the future if let through unchecked.

The greatest shame here is that someone in the corporation will have correctly gauged that no-one will really call out Bacardi on such a narrative line. Because – come on man it’s just an ad, it was a long time ago, calm down. Come and have a drink.

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Agree? Disagree? What have we missed? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Words: Sean Gibson

Photo credit: Sean Gibson

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