Captain Morgan ad

A TV commercial for Diageo’s Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority for suggesting alcohol could boost a drinker’s popularity or confidence.

The ad, broadcast in May, featured a party on a wooden sailing ship. A man with the Captain Morgan character’s face superimposed over his own was shown dancing, upending a sofa so that the man lying on it was tipped into a standing position, and using a rope to swing from one deck to another, as on-screen text urged viewers to “Captain the dancefloor” and “Captain the night”.

The man was then seen standing at the ship’s bow with one foot on the railings, with text that implored: “Put your Captain face on”. An image of Captain Morgan products appeared alongside the slogan “Live like the Captain”.

Diageo claimed the ad emphasised camaraderie, enjoying time with friends and “living life to the full”, while the tag lines suggested taking charge of a night out by staying in control. The Captain Morgan face was intended to embody the brand and its ‘attitude’, but did not symbolise alcohol consumption.

However, the ASA said the commercial suggested alcohol enhanced confidence because the main character danced in an uninhibited way, acted in a mischievous manner, and posed triumphantly. Also, the use of “captain” as a verb carried connotations of self-assurance, dominance and ability to lead others, while the phrase “Captain the dancefloor” implied heightened confidence and dancing skills.

The advertising watchdog concluded the commercial implied that drinking alcohol could augment personal qualities. It was therefore irresponsible and must not appear again in its current form.

Diageo expressed disappointment with the decision.

“No alcohol was pictured and the Captain Morgan face was designed to represent the brand as a whole and not intended to be linked to the consumption of alcohol,” said European marketing director for Captain Morgan Julie Bramham.

She added the brand was pleased the ASA had not upheld a complaint that the ad implied the success of a social occasion depended on the consumption of alcohol.