Caribbean rum on its Marque

Major campaign to promote West Indian spirit gets under way in 2008

UK sales of Caribbean rum will be boosted by a

national advertising campaign.

Running under the umbrella of Authentic Caribbean Rum Marque, it will include consumer and trade advertising,

digital activity, PR

and sampling campaigns.

As part of a two-year push starting in early 2008, bottles will be marked with an internationally recognised stamp to signify to consumers that the product is an authentic Caribbean rum and meets quality standards.

Advertising agency Bray Leino has been appointed by The West Indies Rum &

Spirits Producers Association

to launch the campaign in the UK, Spain and Italy.

It is part of a €70 million EU-funded programme to strengthen the rum category across Europe and has been designed to benefit larger, better-known brands including Mount Gay and Appleton Estate, as well as smaller ones seeking expansion.

As part of the push, WIRSPA will use EU grants to increase participating producers' marketing budgets by between 40

and 50 per cent,

says WIRSPA's UK representative, James Stocker.

Producers have applauded the investment.

James Robinson, brand manager for Appleton owner J Wray & Nephew UK, said: "For the first time in the UK it means there will be a concerted effort to drive the category. It's very important to educate the consumer and I expect to see a big boost for the category in the long-term."

David Smith, international brand director for Barbados-based Cockspur, predicted that Cockspur's UK sales will have tripled when the campaign ends in early 2010.

"There's never been a better time for a brand to develop itself in the UK. It's exciting times for all of us," he said.

To participate in the campaign and to qualify for EU grants, producers must make their rum exclusively from sugar cane. It must also be fermented and distilled in African, Caribbean and Pacific group nations.