Bacardi and Pernod Ricard feud over Havana Club heats up

11 January, 2018

Bacardi has issued a statement in response to Pernod Ricard’s claim that the new Havana Club “Forever Cuban” campaign is ‘misleading’.

The Forever Cuban campaign features Cuban-American actor, Raul Esparza reciting Island Body - a poem written exclusively for the campaign by Cuban-American poet and author, Richard Blanco.

The poem tells exiles that regardless of where they live, their identity cannot be taken away – referencing the exiling of Havana Club from Cuba.

In the statement, Bacardi says that Pernod Ricard, owners of Havana Club, have together with the Cuban goverement, been lying about the history of the brand for more than 20 years.

Pernod Ricard owns the international rights to the Cuban Havana Club brand outside of the US due to its ban on Cuban imports, put in place in 1961 when the Cuban revolution became communism. 

However, Bacardi has been selling its own Puerto Rico - based Havana Club, in the US since the mid-1990s.

The full statement reads:

Pernod Ricard and the Cuban dictatorship have perpetuated a lie since they began their collusion in 1993, and continue to do so today. Since Pernod will not share the true story of Havana Club Rum with their consumers (and with the world), we will.

In 1959, Cuba’s communist revolutionaries confiscated and nationalised the Havana Club distillery and exiled the Arechabala family, who created Havana Club in 1934. While the revolutionaries seized the distillery and trademark by force, they could not steal the recipe or the expertise that it took to produce Havana Club. That expertise left Cuba with the Arechabala family when they were exiled from their homeland. In 1994, Ramon Arechabala passed the Havana Club recipe and production techniques to the Bacardi Family – who are also Cuban exiles – so that they could preserve the legacy and allow the brand to live on.

Cuba’s revolutionaries confiscated and nationalised many family businesses. They imprisoned those who resisted, and tortured those who opposed them. But they did not know how to produce or distribute rum. In 1993, the Cuban regime found a willing partner to help them profit from their stolen trademark - French liquor conglomerate Pernod Ricard. Since then, the Cuban government and Pernod Ricard have generated millions of dollars by selling an imposter rum poured into a bottle and marketed under a stolen name.

Unlike Pernod Ricard, the Bacardi and Arechabala families are not misleading consumers. Our Havana Club Rum is now proudly made in Puerto Rico. It is based on the original recipe and techniques that were used by the Arechabala to make Havana Club in Cuba prior to the Cuban revolution. Our new marketing campaign affirms that, while our rum is now made in Puerto Rico, our heart and soul will be ‘Forever Cuban.’

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