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Captain Morgan ad banned by media regulator

An advertisement for Diageo’s Captain Morgan rum has been pulled after the UK’s media regulator upheld a complaint that it linked alcohol with “aggressive behaviour”.

Captain Morgan ad banned
The ASA has ruled that an ad for Captain Morgan rum must be pulled from UK television

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) investigated two complaints made against a Captain Morgan ad depicting the adventurous lifestyle of a buccaneer.

One complaint claimed the ad might “imply that drinking alcohol was a key component of social success”, while a second argued that it could “link alcohol with daring, toughness and aggressive behaviour”.

In the ad, a buccaneer is featured attracting female attention, riding his horse and carriage through a square among cheering people, discovering treasure, and emerging shirtless from the sea, while the final shots show his crew and townspeople raising their glasses to celebrate his accomplishments.

Throughout the advertisement, a voiceover claims: “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.”

Diageo responded to the complaints by claiming that the ad focused on bringing to life Sir Henry Morgan, a 17th century buccaneer after whom Captain Morgan rum is named after.

The UK drinks group claimed that “all of the scenes were set in a stylised historic way so as to educate consumers that Captain Morgan was based on a genuine historical buccaneer character and illustrated the brand’s heritage in a positive and responsible light”.

According to Diageo, the ad did not imply drinking alcohol was key to social success and depiction of alcohol in the ad was minimal while none was shown to be consumed.

Advertising services group Clearcast stated it had seen a number of edits from Diageo, which they considered raised the concerns noted by the complainants, however, after a number of amendments they were satisfied with the final edit.

This first complaint submitted to the ASA was therefore not upheld.

With regards to the second complaint, Diageo argued that the ad showed “montages that did not contain or suggest any such behaviour” and instead “the actions demonstrated the Captain’s skills as a buccaneer and were intentionally chosen to avoid any suggestion of daring or aggressive conduct”.

However, the ASA decided uphold this complaint, claiming: “We considered these 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 Captain Morgan’ in an ad for rum, linked alcohol with daringness and toughness.

The agency therefore ruled that the ad must not appear again in its current form.

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