‘Irresponsible’ Diageo Captain Morgan ad banned

By Rod Addy contact

- Last updated on GMT

Captain Morgan's brand is in trouble with the ASA again
Captain Morgan's brand is in trouble with the ASA again
Diageo’s Captain Morgan brand has again fallen fowl of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for featuring a parrot that it deemed could appeal to children.

The TV ad for an alcoholic frozen cocktail drink was aired on Film4 at 6pm during the film King Solomon's Mines​. It featured a colourful animated parrot in a tropical setting being frozen and squawking.

The voice-over stated: “Take the best of the Caribbean. Freeze it then crush it up and squeeze it out. Parrot Bay freeze and squeeze cocktails. Now available in passion fruit caipirinha flavour.” ​On-screen text stated: ‘FREEZE A PARROT TODAY … CONTAINS ALCOHOL’.

One viewer, who believed the ad would appeal strongly to children, challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and breached the British Committee of Advertising Practice code.

Diageo argued the ad was aimed at an adult audience, pointing out that the setting was a Caribbean beach bar, with a mature-looking bartender and adult couples in the scene. It said the adult crowd in the background emphasised the overall tone of the ad.

For adults

The drinks giant explained that the macaw character, which was created from the product’s logo through a detailed technical process did not talk. The ‘contains alcohol’ statement in the last frame of the ad reinforced the impression that the product was for adults, it claimed.

It said it had commissioned market research, which showed 75% of consumers who were aware of the Captain Morgan brand were aged 25 or over. One quarter were aged 18-24, while 79% of the consumers who had tried the product were aged 25 or over and 21% were aged 18-24.

In addition, according to the research 43% found the ad humorous, 40% found the ad original and 82% did not find the ad to be childish. It said the ad was scheduled during a film which was made in 1985, and, therefore, was unlikely to appeal to children. It stressed the viewing data showed 95% of the audience was aged 18 or over. For those reasons, it claimed the ad was not irresponsible.

Advertising adviser Clearcast said the parrot was realistic, rather than cute or endearing and, therefore, was unlikely to have youth appeal. It did not believe the ad would appeal strongly to under 18-year olds and thought the ad did not reflect youth culture or show adolescent or juvenile behaviour.

It considered the ad had been prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society.

Appeal to children

However, the ASA considered the animated colourful parrot and its slapstick behaviour, with the parrot being frozen, moving its eyes comically and falling off the bar, would strongly appeal to children.

“… The parrot's squawk and conversational noises … along with the Caribbean-style music, beach scenery and the colourful crystal-ice appearance of the drink … was likely to appeal to children,”​ the ASA added in its decision.

“While we noted the final frame included the text ‘CONTAINS ALCOHOL’, we considered that this was not sufficient to ensure children would not take an interest in the ad …”

In addition, the ‘FREEZE A PARROT TODAY’ slogan “referred back to the slapstick humour previously shown and, therefore, also represented a concept that was likely to appeal to children”, ​said the ASA. Because it believed the ad would appeal to children, it considered it to be irresponsible.

“The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form,”​ it concluded. “We told Diageo to ensure future marketing communications did not have a strong appeal to children.”

 In July, the ASA banned a social media ad for Captain Morgan spiced rum for linking alcohol consumption with improving mood​. And in February, the ASA banned a Captain Morgan spiced rum ad after complaints that it linked alcohol consumption with adventure​.

Related topics: Drinks, Legal

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