UK: ASA bans Captain Morgan ad

26 February, 2014

A complaint against a Captain Morgan TV advert has been upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Diageo’s rum ad received two complaints – one relating to alcohol and social success, which was not upheld, and another around linking alcohol with daring, toughness and aggressive behaviour, which was upheld.

The Captain Morgan ad included a series of scenes based on the adventurous lifestyle of a buccaneer.

In one shot, the buccaneer threw his hat into the air, which landed on a table where two women were sitting. One of the women looked at him admiringly.

The next scene showed him riding a horse and carriage through the square, while people waved and cheered as he rode past.

Throughout the ad a voice-over stated: “Make no mistake about that man on the bottle of Captain Morgan. 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. Captain Morgan. Live like the captain.”

The complainant challenged whether the ad implied that drinking alcohol was a key component of social success; and linked alcohol with daring, toughness and aggressive behaviour.

One the first point, Diageo said it did not believe that the advert implied that drinking alcohol was a key component of social success or that the success of a social occasion was dependent upon the presence or consumption of alcohol. They pointed out that the depiction of alcohol in the ad was minimal and incidental to the main narrative and said that at no point during the ad were any of the characters seen consuming alcohol.

Secondly, in relation to linking alcohol with daring, tough or aggressive behaviour, Diageo commented that it showed montages that did not contain or suggest any such behaviour. The company said the actions demonstrated the Captain’s skills as a buccaneer and were intentionally chosen to avoid any suggestion of daring or aggressive conduct.

The ASA said: “We considered that the buccaneer’s popularity was gained through his heroic and successful accomplishments, and not through the consumption of alcohol, which was depicted as a way of celebrating the moment. Therefore, we concluded that the ad did not imply that drinking alcohol was a key component of social success and for that reason did not breach the Code.”

However, the ASA upheld the second complaint, stating: “We noted that some shots in the ad highlighted the buccaneer’s playful and on occasion provocative personality, but also noted that he was shown driving a carriage at speed, searching a cave for treasure and emerging from the sea having apparently dived from his ship. 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. 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.”

The ad must not appear again in its current form. “We told Diageo Great Britain Ltd that their future advertising must not link alcohol with daringness or toughness” finished the ASA statement.

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