Complaint Summary by Alcohol Concern
We would like to ask the Panel to consider whether the Captain Morgan pirate logo used on bottles and other items by Diageo is in breach of Section 3.2 (h) of the Code, which states that a drink, its packaging or promotion should not have a particular appeal to under-18s, and in particular contravenes the guidance that cartoon-style imagery…bright colouring… pictures of real or fictional people known to children or terminology popular with children should not be featured.
It is indisputable that Captain Morgan as he appears on Diageo’s packaging and marketing materials is a cartoon-style image with bright colouring. 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.
Portman Group Panel Decision: Complaint not upheld
The Panel began by discussing whether the image used on the product range was a cartoon or cartoon-like in style and might therefore be particularly appealing to under 18s. The Panel discussed the image at length and considered that the image was not a cartoon or cartoon like and that it more closely resembled a piece of art or oil painting than it did a cartoon. The Panel recognised that the colours used on the image were of a mature, shaded hue and that the image lacked luminescence or the bright colours that might be appealing to a younger audience. The Panel also concluded that the image was very old fashioned and traditional in style and was reminiscent of Victorian book illustrations and did not resemble any modern cartoons or characters.
The Panel discussed whether the image exhibited any visual clues or similarities to the archetypal pirate image that is commonly used in children stories and would therefore be recognisable by, and appealing to, children. The Panel considered that there were no obvious similarities between the image used on the product and the pirate images commonly depicted in children’s stories, such as an eye patch or wooden leg, and recognised that the image was of in fact of a 17th Century Sea Captain and not a pirate.
Considering the lack of resemblance between the Captain Morgan image and archetypal pirate commonly used in children’s stories, the old fashioned and adult style of illustration and muted colours used, the Panel concluded that it did not breach Code rule 3.2(h).