June 2011

A Night at the Beach

By: Rachel Burkons

Shellback Tavern, overlooking the thundering waves and sandy shores of Southern California’s famed Manhattan Beach, is the ultimate Malibu Rum account. Between its fun, laid-back vibe, the youthful ready-to-party clientele and Malibu-emblazoned surfboards and beach balls peppered throughout the divey-in-a-good-way bar, Shellback Tavern hits a home run on Malibu’s key talking point: fun.

“It’s got that chill vibe, and that’s where Malibu thrives,” explains Malibu Brand manager Sheila Senhouse, who mentions the word fun a handful of times during our interview, which turns out to be a pretty good indicator of the iconic brand’s mentality.

For decades, Barbados-produced Malibu has satisfied the consumers’ demand for the perfect poolside rum, and the line of flavored rums that have rolled out in recent years have been equally well-received and mixed into fruity, fresh and, yes, fun cocktails.

Although Malibu Black is shaking things up for the brand, loyal consumers love the ever-expanding flavor options. “We are all about being young, fresh and fun,” says Murphy.

But these days, Malibu is taking a dark turn with its newest game-changer, Malibu Black, a dark rum with a higher proof than traditional Malibu that is designed to take the brand from sunny poolside parties and into the nighttime party scene. Brand Ambassador Molly Murphy says, “This is a huge departure for us, because Malibu Black is much racier and sexier and will take you into the night.” Senhouse agrees, explaining, “Base Malibu is great for summer, daytime activities, but when you’re looking for a nighttime rum, you want something that will get you going, and Malibu Black does that perfectly.”

With Malibu Black, the brand is also looking to expand its consumer base to a diverse crowd of revelers—and satisfy the demands of the beverage industry professionals who know and love the brand. “Malibu Black is something that has been requested by the consumers and trade for a long time, and it will give us the opportunity to target another consumer, specifically young LDA males,” continues Senhouse.


Molly Murphy, Malibu Brand Ambassador and Bob Beverly, owner of Manhattan Beach, CA’s Shellback Tavern, enjoy a bucket of Prickly Pineapple, made with Malibu, Jameson and pineapple juice. “My customers love the flavored Malibu line,” says Beverly. “We’re an old-school beach bar, and we try to partner with brands that reflect that—and Malibu is the perfect fit.”

Answering the call of their customers is something Malibu does well. In December of 2010 the brand launched a Facebook-driven contest to pick the newest flavor, and the customers’ overwhelming choice—Cranberry Cherry—hit shelves May 1. “They wanted it, so that’s what we’ll deliver,” says Senhouse simply.  

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