Captain Morgan's rum ad was banned for implying alcohol gives you confidence

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A Captain Morgan rum TV ad has been banned by the UK advertising watchdog for implying that alcohol can improve people’s confidence.

The ad (which you can watch below) was set at a party on an old-fashioned pirate ship and saw a man with Captain Morgan’s face from the brand’s logo superimposed over his own.

The man was seen dancing, tipping someone off a sofa, and swinging on a rope, before posing at the bow of the ship. On-screen text stated: “CAPTAIN THE DANCEFLOOR,” “CAPTAIN THE NIGHT,” “PUT YOUR CAPTAIN FACE ON,” before the sign-off “LIVE LIKE THE CAPTAIN.”

Alcohol Concern — a national charity that works on alcohol issues — and a member of the public complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) the spot was “irresponsible” because it implied drinking alcohol could contribute to an individual’s popularity or confidence.

They also complained the ad implied the success of a social occasion depended on the presence or consumption of alcohol.

It its defence, Captain Morgan-owner Diageo pointed out that no alcohol was shown in the party scenes and that the product was only show in a still image at the end of the ad, alongside a responsible drinking message.

Diageo added the man with the Captain Morgan face “was not shown to be more popular, confident, or self-assured than other partygoers,” nor was there a “transformational moment” where his behaviour was shown to change in association with the consumption of alcohol.

The spot, Diageo said, was designed to raise awareness of the attitude of the brand, which it said was one of “camaraderie, enjoying time with friends, living life to the full,” but also taking charge of a night out and staying in control.

The ad was also cleared to air by broadcast clearing body Clearcast, which also stated that no alcohol was shown in the ad. Clearcast added it understood the idea of the ad was “to show the character of the Captain as someone who liked to have a good time,” but that it did not feel drinking was necessary or essential for a party to happen, according to the adjudication.

The ASA, however, said the way in which the man — which viewers would equate with the product itself — danced in an uninhibited manner, acted mischievously, and posed “triumphantly” at the end suggested confidence.

The advertising watchdog also found that the use of “captain” as a verb carried connotations of enhanced confidence, dominance, and the ability to lead others.

It concluded the ad implied drinking could enhance personal qualities and was in breach of the advertising code.

Diageo has been told not to run the ad again in its current form and, in future ads, not to imply alcohol can enhance people’s confidence.

The ASA did not uphold the other complaint — the suggestion that the ad implied the success of an event — ruling that there was nothing to indicate the Captain Morgan character or the consumption of alcohol had any positive or negative influence on the enjoyment of the partygoers.

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