Diageo frustrated after losing battle with Alcohol Concern over Captain Morgan ad

31 August, 2016

Diageo has hit out at the advertising watchdog after it banned a Captain Morgan ad for implying that alcohol can contribute to an individual's popularity or confidence.

The TV ad forms part of a £4.6 million marketing campaign from Diageo and it has been thrown into jeopardy after the Advertising Standards Authority ruled it could not be aired again in its current format.

The ad features a man dancing with his friends on an old-fashioned wooden ship and his Captain Morgan’s faced is super-imposed over his own.

In the ad the man upends a sofa so that someone lying on it is tipped into standing position and uses a rope to swing from one deck to another, as on-screen text states “Captain the Dancefloor” and “Captain the Night”.

Alcohol Concern and a member of the public complained that it promoted alcohol in an irresponsible manner because it implied that: drinking alcohol could contribute to an individual's popularity or confidence; and the success of the social occasion depended on the presence or consumption of alcohol.

The ASA reviewed the case and threw out the second complaint but upheld the first one because “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”.

It banned the ad and told Diageo not to imply that alcohol could enhance people’s confidence.

But Julie Bramham, European marketing director for Captain Morgan, said: “We are disappointed with the ASA’s adjudication. Whilst we are pleased that the ASA chose to not uphold part of the complaint, we disagree with their interpretation on the rest of the ruling.

“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. We believe that the advert illustrated camaraderie, enjoying time with friends and living life to the full whilst taking charge of a night out and staying in control.”

Carlsberg fared better in the weekly ASA rulings after the watchdog ruled it could continue working with vlogger (video blogger) Spencer FC following a complaint that running promotions on his channel is irresponsible because some of his viewers are under 18.

The complaint related to a ticket giveaway for an England football match. Carlsberg defended the ad, arguing that 85% of viewers on the channel are over 18 and that the promotion did not feature any irresponsible content.

The ASA ruled in its favour, adding: “Although we acknowledged that it would be of appeal to some under 18s we did not consider that it would be of greater appeal to them than those in the target demographic of adult football fans, ruled the watchdog, noting that in general the channel content did not focus on themes likely to be of particular appeal to under 18s, did not feature under 18s (with this promotional video not featuring anyone aged under 25), and were dialogue heavy.”

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