‘Daring, tough, aggressive...’ Diageo’s Captain Morgan forced to walk plank

By Ben BOUCKLEY contact

- Last updated on GMT

‘Daring, tough, aggressive’: Diageo's Captain Morgan walks plank

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Diageo brand Captain Morgan is smarting after the UK ads regulator banned an advert featuring the notorious buccaneer for encouraging ‘daring, tough and aggressive’ behavior.

Based on the real-life exploits of 17th​ century pirate, privateer and admiral Sir Henry Morgan – it would be interesting to know what he’d make of Diageo’s effort – the advert was produced to reflect the Captain Morgan brand heritage in a ‘positive and responsible’ light.

We haven’t tracked down the ad in question, but you get the idea from an earlier Captain Morgan ad below – involves a montage of scenes showing the buccaneering lifestyle – as Morgan strips off his shirt, dines, discovers treasure, while women look on admiringly.

“Make no mistake about that man on the bottle…that man was a legend. A hero, history remembers. A liver of life. A man who led with his heart and showed his crew a life more legendary,”​ says a voiceover. “Captain Morgan. Live like the Captain.”

‘Seafarers renowned for rum drinking’ – ASA

Diageo’s advert drew a complaint from one viewer who complained to the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) it linked alcohol with “daring, toughness and aggressive behavior”

Noting the buccaneer’s playful and provocative personality, the ASA said he was also shown driving a carriage at speed and searching a cave for treasure.

“We considered that those actions and the settings shown in the ad would be associated with buccaneers and seafarers renowned for drinking rum, and for their disregard for authority and the well-being of themselves and others,”​ the body said.

“Therefore, we concluded that the depiction of the character and his actions – especially when placed alongside the slogan ‘Live Like the Captain’ in an ad for rum, linked alcohol with daringness and toughness,”​ it added.

‘Neither daring nor dangerous’ – Diageo

This was despite Diageo’s on screen text at the end of the advert: “Captain Morgan…Live like the Captain…Drink responsibly. Captain’s orders! For the facts drinkaware.co.uk.”

Defending the advert, Diageo said it did not link alcohol with ‘daring, tough or aggressive behaviour’ as per the complaint.

The drinks behemoth said the advert showed the Captain’s leadership skills and control of a horse and carriage – acts it did not consider daring or dangerous.

Diageo said it took care to ensure these scenes did not feature alcohol or its consumption to avoid encouraging drinking with such exploits.

While many of the scenes reflected the Captain’s playful and light-hearted personality, Diageo said there was nothing to suggest that alcohol enhanced his skills as a buccaneer.

His behavior was confident and fun, it said, not daring, tough or aggressive.

Anna MacDonald, Western Europe Marketing Director, Rums, said in a statement sent to BeverageDaily.com: “We are disappointed with the ASA Council’s adjudication. We always apply the highest levels of rigor to our marketing campaigns and work closely with all relevant external approval bodies. In this case, pre-clearance for the advert was sought and granted from Clearcast."

She added: "We believed that the scenes in the advert which the Council has taken issue with merely showed the Captain’s skills as a buccaneer in a confident and fun manner, using stylised snapshots of his life in the 17th Century.  We took care to ensure these scenes did not feature any alcohol and were not connected with any alcohol consumption.  Clearly, the ASA Council has interpreted these scenes in a different manner, and whilst we are disappointed by this interpretation, we ultimately respect the Council’s ruling.

We have agreed not to run the advert again in its current form and will continue to work in partnership with the ASA and Clearcast on all future advertising.”

*Article updated with Diageo comment on 27/2/14.

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