Captain Morgan has been keel-hauled by advertising watchdogs for linking booze with daring behaviour.

The ASA received two complaints about a pirate-themed TV advert for the rum brand – and rejected one that claimed the ad implied drinking could bring “social success”. However, brand owner Diageo has been told it cannot use the ad again in its current form after the ASA upheld a complaint that the ad did “link alcohol with daring, toughness and aggressive behaviour”.

Watchdogs said scenes such as a buccaneer driving a carriage at speed, searching a cave for treasure and emerging from the sea having apparently dived from his ship 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”.

“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,” said the ASA in its report.

Diageo had claimed the action scenes were chosen to avoid any suggestion of daring or aggressive conduct, and said care had been taken to ensure those scenes did not feature any alcohol and were unconnected with alcohol consumption. The company added that it believed there was nothing to suggest alcohol enhanced the Captain’s skills as a buccaneer, and that it considered the Captain’s “demeanour and actions were confident and fun, which were very different from daring, tough or aggressive behaviour”.

The ASA said the ad must not appear again in its current form, and has told Diageo that its future advertising must not link alcohol with daringness or toughness.

Strongbow ad cleared

Meanwhile, the ASA has rejected a complaint that an ad for Heineken cider brand Strongbow implied drinking alcohol could be used to “overcome problems, enhance personal qualities and improve performance”.

The humorous ad featured three men facing everyday challenges and finding the “inner strength to push on to complete their tasks”. The men were then shown raising a pint of Strongbow in celebration. Heineken said the ads only presented Strongbow as a reward for completing the task and believed there was no suggestion the characters had consumed alcohol beforehand.

The ASA agreed the ad did not imply alcohol could be used to help overcome problems or ensure success, and concluded it did not breach advertising guidelines.