September 2010

Revolution 9

By: David Gadd
Photos by: Tom Clark


For anyone who grew up listening to the Beatles’ White Album (and who didn’t?), the number 9 has a special hook. The magical, mysterious aura of this numeral also attaches itself to the newest product from Cruzan: Cruzan 9.

Master Distiller Gary Nelthropp at the launch of Cruzan 9 in Palm Beach.
The new spiced rum gets its name from the nine aromatics—allspice, vanilla, cinnamon, pepper, ginger, nutmeg, clove, mace and juniper berry—that give the product its unique flavor profile, and parent company Beam Global has big plans for this important Cruzan brand extension.

In short, it's a whole revolution in spiced rum.

Nine Spices, No Pirates

“There are a lot of characters and mascots in the spiced rum category—captains and sailors and admirals,” says Dave Turo, Senior Brand Manager for Cruzan, “but nobody really talks about rum. What we’re all about with Cruzan 9 is the rum.” That should be easy enough, since Cruzan 9 is based on premium aged Cruzan rum, with all of the quality that that implies.

With a national average SRP of $14.99, Cruzan 9 is very competitively priced, a key factor in the growing success of the brand—and the popularity of rum in general—with consumers in the current economic climate. “The value that rum represents,” Turo points out, “is why rum is hot.”

Nine under the Palms

Media and distributors were introduced to Cruzan 9 in New York City earlier this summer, but the big consumer kick-off was held in Florida, where Cruzan is king. The state is the brand’s number-one market, and Cruzan returned the favor by rolling out Cruzan 9 to an enthusiastic crowd in late July in Palm Beach.

More than 40,000 fans showed up for a Saturday evening Dave Matthews Band concert at the Cruzan Amphitheatre, a branded venue that Turo calls “our stake in the ground nationally.” And the evening before, several hundred eager consumers attended a launch party at local hangout Panama Hattie’s. This popular Caribbean-themed restaurant, with its unique outdoor rum bar on the sands of Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway, is one of the top Cruzan accounts in the country.

The star of the party was Cruzan Master Distiller Gary Nelthropp. “Having Gary there was tremendous,” says Turo. “He spends most of his time on St. Croix concocting rum, but it’s really a treat to put him in front of consumers. He brings a huge amount of credibility to the brand, based on his experience and his family’s tradition.”
New Cruzan 9 is flavored with nine spicy aromatics.
Nine Cities on 9/9 at 9

Consumers who saw the packaging really reacted positively to the graphic look of the bottle, Turo reports, noting that the bold label design, with its graphic number 9, “really pops on the back bar.” But Turo knows that it’s what inside that really counts.

“Our goal,” says Turo, “is to get people to taste Cruzan 9. Once we do that, we know we’ll have brand fans.”  To do just that, Cruzan’s national launch plan includes a busy schedule of on-premise events. Cashing in on the aura of the number 9, the brand’s nationwide consumer kick-off will be held in nine cities—Minneapolis, Boston, Chicago, Tampa, Detroit, Baltimore, Pittsburg, Los Angeles, Indianapolis—on 9/9, with events that begin at 9 p.m.

While Cruzan rums traditionally do very well in the southeastern United States, Turo and his team will also be focusing on bringing Cruzan 9 to potential growth markets such as Minneapolis and Chicago, where consumer interest in spiced rum has already been piqued.

With excitement for this new spiced rum running at high tide, we predict consumers across the country will soon be paraphrasing the Beatles tune: Cruzan 9, Cruzan 9, Cruzan 9. . . . 

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