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Diageo backs Captain Morgan Gold with $65m launch campaign

LONDON - Diageo is making its second assault on the US alcopop market with the launch of Captain Morgan Gold, backed by a $65m (£44.5m) advertising campaign created by Grey Worldwide.

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The campaign will appear on television, radio and posters, featuring the Captain Morgan pirate character.

Three humorous television spots will show men looking for fun, with the strapline "Got a little Captain in you?". However, it is the US -- the ads will also feature serious messages about responsible drinking.

The new drink follows in the footsteps of Smirnoff Ice, Diageo's successful January 2001 debut in the US ready-to-drink category.

Like the US version of Smirnoff Ice, which contains no vodka, Captain Morgan Gold does not actually contain any of the rum that inspired the new brand. Instead, it is described as a "premium malt beverage with a crisp, new taste inspired by Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum".

"This has really taken the 'Captain' experience to a whole new place beyond the traditional Captain Morgan mixed with Coke," John Replogle, president of the Guinness Bass Import Company, said of the new launch.

The advantage of producing ready-to-drink beverages inspired by, but not containing, hard liquor, is that they can be advertised on television. While Diageo has attempted to break through the self-imposed ban on advertising hard liquor on US television, it has been thwarted by pressure groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

The Captain Morgan launch comes as Diageo announced it had finalised the £560m sale of the Malibu rum brand to Allied Domecq, forced by the Federal Trade Commission over concerns it would have a monopoly on the US rum market.

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