Rum Decision…Advert censor bans Captain Morgan from telling the truth that alcohol boosts confidence

Posted: 4 September, 2016 in ASA Advert Censor
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captain morgan party advert video A TV ad for Captain Morgan rum, seen on 14 May 2016, featured a party on an old-fashioned wooden sailing ship. A man with Captain Morgan’s face, from the advertiser’s logo, superimposed over his own was shown dancing with friends, upending a sofa so that someone lying on it was tipped off into standing position, and using a rope to swing from one deck to another, as on-screen text stated CAPTAIN THE DANCEFLOOR and CAPTAIN THE NIGHT . The man was then shown posing with one foot on the railing at the front of the ship, with on-screen text that stated PUT YOUR CAPTAIN FACE ON . An image of a range of Captain Morgan products appeared alongside text stating LIVE LIKE THE CAPTAIN .

Alcohol Concern and a member of the public challenged whether the ad was irresponsible because it implied that:

  1. drinking alcohol could contribute to an individual’s popularity or confidence; and

  2. the success of the social occasion depended on the presence or consumption of alcohol.

ASA Assessment

1. Upheld

The ASA acknowledged Diageo’s and Clearcast’s comments that imposing Captain Morgan’s face over that of the central figure was intended to link the man’s behaviour and experience to the brand’s attitude of fun and living life to the full, and to the historical figure that it was named after, and not to represent drinking. While we agreed that the use of the Captain’s face associated the character and his actions directly with the brand, we considered that viewers would equate the brand and the character with the product itself. Viewers were therefore likely to understand that the central figure’s behaviour resulted from his consumption of Captain Morgan rum.

We noted that the man with the Captain Morgan face was shown dancing next to a band performing, and then dancing alongside other partygoers. We noted that the body language of the other individuals in the scene did not suggest that they were paying any special attention to him and did not emphasise his popularity. In the scene where the man slid down a rope, we noted that two partygoers looked directly at him as he landed, but it appeared as if their attention had been drawn momentarily by someone appearing on the deck beside them and there was nothing to suggest that the man was being regarded with particular admiration. When he struck a pose at the end of the ad, we noted that the scene did not show others being drawn to him as a result. However, we also noted that the man was shown dancing in an uninhibited way, posing triumphantly at the bow of the ship and acting in a mischievous manner (for example, by upending the sofa), which we considered suggested confidence.

Diageo stated that the strapline CAPTAIN THE NIGHT referred to the fact that the man was acting independently, in control of his actions and taking charge of a night out. We acknowledged that his behaviour and interactions with others demonstrated that he was more concerned with having a good time than gaining social recognition, and could thus be seen as acting independently. However, we considered that the use of captain as a verb to mean being in charge or in control carried connotations of enhanced confidence, dominance, and ability to lead others. As such, we considered that the phrase CAPTAIN THE DANCEFLOOR also implied enhanced confidence and abilities on the dancefloor. In that context, we considered that the phrases PUT YOUR CAPTAIN FACE ON and LIVE LIKE THE CAPTAIN would be understood by consumers as invitations to achieve a confident, uninhibited attitude through consuming Captain Morgan rum. We considered that this impression was reinforced by the image of Captain Morgan products that appeared on screen at the end of the ad alongside the message LIVE LIKE THE CAPTAIN , as well as the repeated use of the word captain , which directly invoked the name of the product in a context of confidence. Although the ad did not explicitly depict drinking alcohol as resulting in a change in the central character’s behaviour in a before and after scenario, we considered that the superimposed Captain Morgan face implied that he had already consumed the product and thus linked his confident behaviour to this consumption. We concluded that the ad implied that drinking alcohol could enhance personal qualities and was therefore irresponsible.

2. Not upheld

We noted that the opening shots of the ad showed a ship on which a party appeared to be underway and then a scene of people dancing on the deck, before the man with the Captain Morgan face was introduced. We did not consider that there was any noticeable change in the upbeat, party atmosphere once he appeared. We noted that the party scenes did not show alcohol being consumed, and although we considered that the behaviour of the figure with Captain Morgan’s face would be understood as being associated with alcohol consumption, as described above, there was nothing to indicate that his actions had any positive or negative influence on the enjoyment of other partygoers. Therefore we concluded that the ad did not imply that the general success of the party was dependent on the presence or consumption of alcohol.

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Diageo not to imply that alcohol could enhance people’s confidence.

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