What's the Big Idea?

By Published on .

In a country that is apathetic at best about its presidential candidates, Grey Advertising may have hit on the most popular presidential hopeful to date: Captain Morgan. The three "Captain Morgan for President" spots in the new campaign for the runaway rum cover a press conference (Q: "Why couldn't the Captain be with us?" A: "Can you say Karaoke Night?"), a speechwriting session and a staff meeting at headquarters ("Use an SPF of at least 15 if you're going to photocopy your butt, people.").

The concept behind the campaign, themed "Putting the party into politics," actually originated with the client. Grey senior creative director Rob Baiocco says that they were somewhat leery of the "Captain for President" idea at first, but they decided to "try to really understand the character of the Captain." The resulting series of mockumentary-style spots includes the frazzled campaign manager dumping a pile of tropical fruit on an assistant's desk and asking her to "collate and distribute these by three," and a speech-editing session that gets stuck on the correct spelling of "daiquiri." Having successfully probed the Captain's undoubtedly complex psyche, the team got a cameo from James Carville, for that authentic smoke-filled room feel. In the speechwriting spot, the campaign manager is handed a bunch of soaking wet papers, and he storms off to find the writer - Carville, cavorting in a hot tub. "You know when you get James Carville in a hot tub, you're gonna have something funny," laughs Baiocco.

That this TV campaign exists at all is somewhat surprising, considering the ad and TV industries' self-imposed ban on commercials hawking hard booze, which has rarely been broken, even on cable. But Comedy Central, E! and TNT are all endorsing Captain Morgan. The residual trepidation about liquor advertising seems to linger, however. Even this raucous campaign comes with a do-good message - the voiceover at the end of each :60 urges viewers to get out and vote. Baiocco explains, "You want to be responsible when you're giving out a message like that. The goal is to entertain people and get them to vote. And if you sell a little Captain Morgan's, of course, that's nice too."

Client: Captain Morgan Rum Agency: Grey Advertising/New York CD: Rob Baiocco/Eric Finkelstein CW: Nira Firestone AD: Tim Mattimore Producer: Aaron Royer Director: Kenan Moran, Compass Films

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