“El Ron Del Murcielago”: The Rum of the Bat
Excerpted from: The History of Bacardi’s Iconic Bat Logo
On July 30, 2015 Bacardi Websiton Facundo Bacardi Massó purchased a distillery in Santiago de Cuba in 1862. Don Facundo developed a light rum with a taste that was in stark contrast to the fiery aguardiente of the day. The story goes (from Bacardi’s website) that as they set up shop, his wife, Doña Amalia, noticed a colony of fruit bats nesting in the eaves of the tin-roofed distillery and suggested to her husband that the bat become the symbol of Bacardi rum.
A perfect logo for a molasses-based distilled spirit as bats pollinate the crops and prey on insects that damage it. The bat also had roots in folklore, symbolizing good fortune in the Bacardis’ native Catalonia, as well as among the local Cuban indigenous population. According to these traditions, bats represent brotherhood, discretion, and faithfulness.
Doña Amalia’s logo turned out to be an effective business move. Many of Bacardi’s potential clients were illiterate, and the image of the bat helped them to remember the rum. They began to ask for “el ron del murciélago,” or “the rum of the bat”.
In 1959, changes were made to the logo that have largely remained to date. The bat’s realistic features became more stylized, and gold accents and a gold border were added. Between 2002 and 2005, minor tinkering was done to the bat image that included making it three-dimensional, expanding the image until it burst from the gold border, and turning its head to face right, symbolic of looking to the future.
The bat logo has undergone many changes over the years. The first version was a realistic-looking black bat on a red circular background. After the Cuban War for Independence, the image was updated with a more detailed bat drawing and the phrase “marca de fábrica”. The version endured for more than half a century.
FLYING FROM THE DESERT: THIRSTY AMERICANS FLEE TO CUBA..FOR A DRINK
Perhaps the most memorable was circulated during the Prohibition to entice thirsty Americans to flee the United States and fly to Cuba, the home of Bacardi rum.
The ad depicts Uncle Sam with a cocktail glass in hand en route from Florida to Cuba, dangling from the back leg of an enormous and very accommodating bat.
Bacardi’s building architecture features bat images all over the world. Edificio Bacardi in Havana, Cuba, features a 3D image of the Bacardi bat at its pinnacle perched atop a gold and ruby-colored sphere. Images of the bat are found throughout the building, pressed into brass, etched into hanging lanterns, and adorning interior doors. Bacardi’s Puerto Rican distillery, known as the “Cathedral of Rum” showcases a giant bat statue that graces a fountain in the entry courtyard. The conference room of Bacardi headquarters in Bermuda overlooks a stunning water feature, where the Bacardi bat logo shimmers beneath crystal-clear water.
The bat still flies for Bacardi’s marketing department
In 2014, Bacardi celebrated Cuba’s Independence Day (May 20) by “releasing” bats in five continents over the course of 24 hours. Thirty-four artists developed their own visions of the Bacardi bat taking flight. In Sydney, Australia, artists created a moving light show that featured a large bat dancing near the famous harbor. In London, an interactive light exhibit invited passersby to place an LED light on a copper tape and cork board. When dusk fell, the lit board revealed several bats in flight. A CGI projection in Rotterdam, Netherlands, offered the illusion of actual fruit bats nesting and flying about in an office over the Beurs World Trade Center.