CAPTAIN MORGAN TO MAKE HIS MARK WITH PHONY ADS: RUM'S MASCOT TO SCRATCH 'STACHE OVER FAUX PIECES OF ADVERTISING

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The pirate mascot of Seagram Americas' Captain Morgan spiced rum will hijack other "ads" in an estimated $6 million-plus campaign that kicks off next month.

For the effort, Grey Advertising, New York, will create print and outdoor ads for fictitious brands similar to actual products. In a twist, the Captain Morgan character's mustache and beard will be splashed on the faces of people in the ads along with the tag "The captain was here."

MAY USE REAL PRODUCTS

Seagram is trying to get the rights to use the ads of actual products, and the distiller believes it will succeed.

"This is a fun brand," said Arthur Shapiro, exec VP-marketing for Seagram. "People are buying the taste and the captain, so why not have the captain pirate advertising?"

The strategy appears to take to the next step a concept pioneered by Eveready Battery Co. with its Energizer bunny, in which the battery-powered hare interrupted fictitious commercials. TBWA Chiat/Day, Venice, Calif., created the Energizer advertising.

Current Captain Morgan ads depict people with graffitilike beards and mustaches on their faces as they down rum drinks.

Seagram boosted advertising for the spiced rum 7.2% to $5 million in 1997, according to Competitive Media Reporting. The entire Captain Morgan portfolio, including Parrot Bay coconut-flavor rum, received $9.2 million in support, up 92.5% over '96 spending. The brands are in for another increase this year.

Captain Morgan has been a hot brand for Seagram. Sales of Captain Morgan shot up 24.2% to 1.6 million cases last year, according to Impact.

BACARDI SPENDING TO RISE

Seagram's No. 1 competitor in the rum category is Bacardi-Martini USA, which has the best-selling rum -- and best-selling U.S. spirit -- with its Bacardi brand. Bacardi plans to back the rum with $28 million in advertising this year, an 8% increase over 1997 (AA, Jan. 19). Ammirati Puris Lintas, New York, handles.

Bacardi also is getting more aggressive in other ways. It's introducing a superpremium rum, Exclusiv, and has broadened its portfolio by acquiring the Dewar's Scotch whisky and Bombay gin brands from Diageo.

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