Diageo dodges Captain Morgan logo complaint

3rd June, 2016 by Amy Hopkins

A complaint against the iconic pirate logo for Diageo’s Captain Morgan rum has been dismissed by UK industry watchdog the Portman Group.


The Portman Group has dismissed Alcohol Concern’s complaint against the iconic logo for Captain Morgan rum

National charity Alcohol Concern issued a complaint claiming that “cartoon-style” imagery and bright colours used on the logo appeals to under-18s, thus breaching the Portman Group’s Code.

“It is indisputable that Captain Morgan as he appears on Diageo’s packaging and marketing materials is a ‘cartoon-style’ image with ‘bright colouring’,” the complaint stated.

“He is also clearly both a real and a fictional person known to children: the popularity of 17th and 18th century pirates with young children is attested to by a wealth of books, films and toys; and the Captain Henry Morgan, on whom the drink’s branding is based, is both a well-known historical character and has been fictionalised in a number of stories in print and on screen.”

However, the Portman Group’s Independent Complaints Panel (ICP) ruled against the complaint, claiming that the logo was not cartoon-like but “more closely resembled a piece of art or an oil painting”.

The panel also said the logo does not feature bright or luminous colours and does not have “obvious similarities to archetypal pirate images commonly found in children’s stories”, instead depicting a historical figure more recognisable to adults.

“Most notably, […] the image of the sea captain lacked any of the visual clues of the archetypal pirate that are recognisable to children, such as a wooden legs, a parrot, an eye patch, missing teeth or a treasure map,” the panel said.

Furthermore, the ICP claimed that since the Captain Morgan logo has been used across the product range for more than 30 years, it has become “synonymous” with the rum brand.

‘‘Alcohol producers must be careful when using artwork on their products to ensure that they do not hold particular appeal to children,” said Henry Ashworth, secretary to the ICP. “The Portman Group has a free, impartial advisory service who are always on hand to support producers.”

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