Open letter to Diageo

on November 2, 2012 | Social Media | Comments (5)

Dearest Diageo,

I have a question that needs answering.

As much as any man who works in communication, I confess, I enjoy good advertising. Maybe more. I enjoy nothing more than sitting in a comfy chair and savouring a good ad or campaign. I know it’s sad Diageo, but I love the process of persuasion. Please don’t judge me.

But lately, Diageo, I find myself overwhelmed, nay, tormented by professional curiosity. Diageo, I need to know what the deal is with Captain Morgan…

Allow me to elaborate.

I work for a digital agency, specialising in Social Media. It is the appropriate place for a nerd such as I, as I can channel this obsession, which my father insists is the result of some psychosexual illness, into productive channels. We create Social Media Campaigns, campaigns that are designed to build brand charisma, resonate with target audiences and prompt two-way engagement.

We keep our ear to the ground, like a good digital agency should, and observe with curiosity (and more often than not, a cocked eyebrow) the advertising campaigns that pass through the platform. Many of yours I have enjoyed immensely! Idris Elba as the ambassador for Tanqueray? I love that guy! You’re selling me through association and subtext Diageo, and you so often do it so well.

But what’s the deal with Captain Morgan, Diageo?

There are approximately eighteen Captain Morgan presences on Facebook Each presence distributes slightly different content. I get it. Each target audience is different. But here’s where puzzlement reaches capacity.

The Captain Morgan USA page is excellent.  It’s a fantastic example of high quality, well written content. The brand walks the perfect razor-thin fine line between tongue-in-cheek humour and devil-may-care charisma and whilst it teeters occasionally, it never descends into complete self-parody or coming across as too full of itself.

However, by the Captain Morgan Australia page I simply do not get. Gone is the charismatic Captain Morgan, and in his wake we are left with a guy that distributes pamphlets outside seafood restaurants, who insists, whiskey on his words, that he used to be Captain Feathersword. We talk about appealing to audience sense? This guy literally appeals directly to my fight or flight instinct.

The messaging here is cringe-worthy at best. I assume its targeting young people but I can’t join the dots as to the methodology. If we do laugh, we’re laughing at Captain Morgan. You might laugh at a clown but we don’t want to shake his hand. Association here does not sell us.

Content construction is terrible. The underlying messages are actually damaged by how they have been packaged.

You’re the top dog of the alcohol industry Diageo. You wouldn’t give something the green light unless it had been constructed with plenty of consideration. It would need a solid strategy with clever tactics and firm objectives.

So tell me Diageo, what’s the deal with Captain Morgan?

Author Bio

Matthew Cox is a strategic consultant at Dialogue Consulting, a digital agency that specialises in Social Media training and community development. Hailing from a background in PR and communications, Matthew’s role has seen him work with a wide range of organisations across a number of different sectors. He specialises in building creative strategies to grow communities and launch organisations into the social media space. Matthew also writes frequently for the Dialogue Consulting blog which can be found at

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