Kraken Rum’s League of Darkness Campaign
We enabled Proximo Spirits to grow an unknown challenger brand into a national top-three rum brand in under five years. We achieved this by tapping into the brands core principles and leveraging its unique appeal to promote the brand’s loyalty across consumer and trade – helping to create growth in value of over 300%.
The objective of the brief was clear; “we’re not big enough yet to amplify distribution and we don’t have the budgets to support a huge brand awareness offensive – give us a solution that will help us grow this brand from an awareness and volume standpoint.”
That initial brief from Proximo Spirits was suggested to focus on trade customers, specifically on-trade. Their sales team could handle the large national accounts, but not the tens-of-thousands of smaller accounts that sit below that. That’s where they saw the greatest penetration and quickest wins.
How do you make thousands of small on-trade accounts and ultimately, off-trade accounts take notice of your brand and want to stock it? You have to create a demand for it. We knew instantly – we wouldn’t be successful if we just focused on the on-trade alone, our solution needed to address consumers, in fact, it had to be built around consumers. It had to facilitate a growth in consumer demand and then it had to enable our target accounts to meet this demand.
We proposed a radical strategy that would leverage the niche appeal of The Kraken Rum brand and amplify it across a wider audience. We could see that amongst the audience that drank the spirit, there was a sense of brand loyalty and belonging – not one typically seen in this industry, but a real loyal, almost-cult following of a brand that at the time, felt unique, underground and sacred. We decided to leverage this to create a long-term strategy built on customer engagement and loyalty. A strategy that would pull demand up through the drinkers and push down through the venues that served the product – creating a flow of demand in both directions at a scalable level.
And so was born The League of Darkness, a community of like-minded Kraken Rum drinkers and Kraken Rum purveyors that would co-exist. The programme is unique to the industry, there was and still is nothing like it – although some have tried and failed to replicate it.
The League of Darkness has two very distinct tracts – one for consumers (or drinkers) and one for trade customers (those that stock and serve the product in their venues). Anyone can join it, but as it has grown to over 60,000 members, it still feels niche, it still feels exclusive. Consumers that register as members enjoy many perks and privileges that are designed to maintain and amplify their loyalty to the brand; regular competitions to win very exclusive, 1-off branded prizes, access to exclusive content that cannot be accessed anywhere else, priority booking on Kraken Rum events, priority access to new product and special edition launches. And then there’s the biggest draw of all, the unique and totally revolutionary way that we have been able to exchange brand loyalty into real currency. We’ll keep that strategic gem a secret.
Trade members similarly are rewarded for their loyalty, they can enjoy many of the same advantages as consumers, but their loyalty, shown by stocking, selling and serving The Kraken Rum, ultimately lets them claim the merch and point-of-sale that they want for their bar (or sometimes just for themselves).
For over five years, we’ve been able to grow and engage with thousands of members, dramatically building up brand salience and loyalty as we go. Through a continuous rhythm of communication, engagement and reward – there are now more League of Darkness members in the UK than there are people inhabiting the Welsh town of Wrexham and over 2,000 loyalist venues all over the country influencing the purchase behaviours of hundreds-of-thousands more.
In 2022, the League of Darkness contributed to the distribution of over 64,000 9ltr cases of Kraken Rum in the UK, the equivalent of £86m in value (growth of 301% vs 2017 numbers and increase of annual value of ~£66m). The programme has engaged over 65,000 consumers over that time and with nearly 3,000 independent venues, which has led to a market penetration of over 80% for The Kraken Black Spiced Rum. We’re delighted that our work has lead to The Kraken Rum moving from challenger brand to the 3rd biggest rum brand in the UK in 2022.
CI Group have continued to be recognised by prestigious awards such as the IPM awards, as CI Group was honoured with the Gold at The Institute of Promotional Marketing (IPM) Awards 2023. the Best Promotional Marketing Management category, demonstrating the power of effective marketing and loyalty-building strategies, transforming Kraken Rum from a challenger brand into a formidable player in the UK’s rum industry.
Furthermore, shortlisted for the The Drum Awards, taking place in the final four in the Integrated Content category with our incredible Kraken’s Black Cherry Launch.