Ahoy, AW360 readers it’s National Rum Day! As we toast one another with a rum and Coke (or two) on this holiday, we’re also reminded to “live like a captain” as Captain Morgan would say. For nearly 70 years, this swashbuckling icon has taught us that variety is the spice of life with his collection of distinctive spiced and flavored rums. As far as spirit mascots go, he has also been much of a mystery to us. What do we know about the legend on the label anyway? Turns out, he’s actually inspired by a Buccaneer and his iconic look has transformed in a major way throughout the years. Let’s set sail to discover more about his world.
Captain Morgan’s character is based loosely on the real-life privateer Henry Morgan. In 1654, Morgan left his native Wales for the West Indies. He was quickly made Captain and became famous as a legal pirate or Buccaneer, defending British interests and generally rocking the Caribbean.
His exploits earned him a knighthood and by 1680, Sir Henry Morgan was a plantation owner and Governor of Jamaica. There he lived out his final days until his death in 1688. Centuries later, he became the figurehead for a company that became as famous as the man himself… The Captain Morgan Rum Company.
In early Captain Morgan advertisements from the 1950s, illustrations depict him as more as a portly member of royalty than a pirate. The Captain was much more stout and had a fuller face with a grin. The 1980s and early 1990s introduced a new Captain who was much more dashing and adventurous, wearing earrings and adopting his iconic “pose” stance.
He also began showing the world his mischievous side, as revealed in this infamous print ad from 1996.
Outside of his physical appearance, this month you’ll be able to spot a new bottle design unveiled from the brand. In addition to new updates on the cap, label, and embossing, you’ll find a modern Captain on every label — standing proudly on branded barrels with an all-knowing glint in his eyes.
Today, Captain Morgan wants you to have a good time. Take this “Secret Passage” commercial where Captain Morgan leads a young woman away from a stuffy ballroom to an underground wonderland. If her face looks familiar to you, she’s actually actress Gal Gadot AKA Wonder Woman. Who knows if she would be a superheroine today if the Captain hadn’t been there to encourage her to have fun?
That’s who the Captain is – he doesn’t want you to take life so seriously. Perfection is overrated, but those that make their own entertainment where there wasn’t any before are truly living in the pirate spirit. Cheers, Captain Morgan. We’ll drink to that philosophy.