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Diageo's Captain Morgan rum rapped for implying alcohol can overcome boredom

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By Ben Bouckley+

23-Jul-2014
Last updated on 23-Jul-2014 at 11:37 GMT

FromSandToGlass/Flickr
FromSandToGlass/Flickr

Diageo rum brand Captain Morgan has again been censured by UK advertising regulator the ASA – this time for implying that alcohol can overcome boredom and is capable of changing mood.

UK regulator the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) today upheld a complaint from the Youth Alcohol Advertising Council, which complained that the advert was irresponsible.

In February 2014 the ASA banned a TV advert based on the real-life exploits of 17th century pirate, privateer and admiral Sir Henry Morgan for encouraging ‘daring, tough, aggressive’ behavior .

Now Captain Morgan’s back in the news, this time courtesy of an advert on the rum brand’s Facebook page where the Captain is surrounded by and seen enjoying time with his crewmates.

‘I’m declaring war on mid-week boredom’

Morgan is seen raising a glass and cheering while text at the top of the ad states: ‘WEDNESDAY. I’M DECLARING WAR ON MID-WEEK BOREDOM’.

The ASA agreed with the YAAC and said it considered it thought most consumers would interpret the ad to mean that the Captain was alleviating his boredom by drinking the rum with friends.

Despite the presence of other Facebook posts that referred to meeting friends as a ‘mid-week milestone’, the ASA said they did not appear regularly and were not directly linked to the advert.

“We considered that the presence of ‘drink responsibly’ posts did not undermine the fact that the ad, although not expressly encouraging excessive drinking, implied that the Captain had sought alcohol to improve his mood.

Upon this basis, the ASA’s panel said the advert implied that alcohol could overcome boredom and was capable of changing mood – thus it broke the CAP Code under three different rules.

Diageo: 'We don't agree with the ASA, but we'll respect its ruling'

Julie Bramham, western Europe marketing director, Captain Morgan, told BeverageDaily.com: “We always apply the highest levels of rigour to our marketing campaigns and are therefore disappointed with the ASA Council’s adjudication. The post on our Facebook page, one of a number of regular posts, was intended to suggest that consumers take a break from their normal weekday routine and spend time with friends mid-week.  

"Clearly, the ASA Council has interpreted this post in a different manner, and whilst we do not agree with this interpretation, we ultimately respect the Council’s ruling. We have agreed not to use the post again in its current form," she added.

Bramham's comment did not answer another question we posed, namely whether Diageo planned to make Captain Morgan advertising less 'edgy' given the brand's second ASA censure inside six months.

Prior to the ASA’s adjudication Diageo said its advert was a call on consumers to take a break from their normal weekday routine rather than wait for the weekend.

In the ASA’s words: “They said the advert was not a call to drink as there was no mention of alcohol consumption and the ad did not feature the product or servings of alcohol prominently.”

Against the backdrop of other posts calling on groups of friends to meet during the week, Diageo insisted that they did not promote alcohol consumption as a means to alleviating mid-week boredom.

The rum brand also won support from Facebook, which told the ASA that the advert did not violate its internal policies and was appropriately age-gated.

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