Ladies and Gentlemen, This is Your Captain Speaking

“Love on the rocks, ain’t no big surprise.
Just pour me a drink and I’ll tell you some lies?”

— From Neil Diamond’s “Love On the Rocks”

While flipping through my bible (Entertainment Weekly) the other day, I stumbled upon an ad that, well, let’s just say it caught my attention. The ad depicted a scene of a happy, dancing threesome, one guy pressed up between two women, with a third woman dancing in front of them, looking to join in. At least, I think they’re supposed to be dancing.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re all fully clothed. Other than a few violations of the guidelines for “personal space,” (even for this type of dancing), it could simply be an innocent, run-of-the-mill “Conga” line, the type in which we have all participated.

Bursting into the scene from the upper right corner of the ad is our ‘ol friend, Captain Morgan, of the Original Spiced Rum fame. Like any pirate captain worth his salt, he’s looking down on the dance scene with that lusty, leering pirate captain look. What I found most interesting was the headline, “Club Sandwich?” Is my mind in the gutter, or is this scene sounding less and less like your everyday, garden-variety conga line?

Who is the audience for this ad? Guys? Gals? Club-goers? Joe Six Pack? And what is the message? Is it that Captain Morgan can help guys “score” women? Several women at once? Or is it simply what the press release for the ad series would have us believe: “Once again, the Captain has energized the edgy scene, making a good time better.” Okay, so there’s nothing like a little alcohol to take the edge off and get people to relax and let their hair down. I won’t argue with that, although, be warned, I’ve been told alcohol inhibits performance. Um, what I mean is, no one’s ever had to actually tell me that. It’s just what I’ve heard. No, I think I read it somewhere. Would you believe I have a “friend”who has this problem? Oh, forget it. Hey wait! I’m not the one on trial, here, remember? It’s that lecherous Captain Morgan.

Ahem? Before I go any further, in all fairness, I’d like to offer a disclaimer to my friend Captain Morgan and the good folks at the Seagram Beverage Company, the makers of his Original Spiced Rum, and a wide variety of other “spirits.” Dear Captain: If I have mistaken your intention, or read too much into this ad, or simply have taken it way too literally, I apologize. If the sexually suggestive nature of your ad is all in my mind, or a product of my overactive imagination, my latent male fantasies, my repressed Catholic upbringing, my id run amok or my hormonal imbalance, well, you can simply disregard my analysis of your ads, your brand, and my suggestion that your character is anything but noble. Now that my conscience and the legal department of have breathed a collective sigh of relief, I will continue.

C’mon, Captain Morgan. Look at the evidence against you. You are a pirate. You guys are best known for drinking, stealing, raping and pillaging. Your website offers a ” Morganette of the Month .” I agree with your tagline for the ad, “Everything tastes better with a splash of the unexpected.” To me, what’s unexpected is that in this current climate of AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, Venus and Mars books, post feminism, distorted gender stereotypes and the communication break-down between the sexes, in spite of all this, you are still taking this approach to sell your product.

Now, here’s the scary part: Seagram is a billion-dollar company in a billion-dollar industry. The agency who created the ad is Grey Worldwide in New York , a top ad agency. These folks didn’t get where they are today by running advertising that doesn’t work. This stuff is researched, focused grouped, strategically created and executed. Ladies and gentlemen, they’re giving us what we want.

Although Neil Diamond sure nailed it when he sang that song, it doesn’t mean we have to believe what we’re told, does it?

That’s what I think. What do you think about this stuff?