Why Captain Morgan’s right to challenge the US Constitution

We all know that most brands are good at PR, but very few are effective at adding value to the wider conversation. They’re frightened to have an opinion for fear of rocking the boat and alienating their customer base.

Of course, companies can also push the boundaries too far. Think Paddy Power who just doesn’t give a ____ (any bets on what I’d like to write?) But, those that sensibly align with issues, which are relevant to their audience, stand to gain talkability, loyalty and column inches. 

Interestingly, Captain Morgan hasn’t just scrolled through Google Trends to find a topic to get behind. Instead, it’s done its homework and began campaigning to change the US Constitution to engage Millennials

 Captain Morgan for President? 
Having identified that people under the age of 35 cannot serve as President of the United States, it’s started a movement by petitioning to change the law – all for the price of an advert in the New York Times, a hashtag (#Under35POTUS) and some digital video spend.

 Captain Morgan puts pen to paper 
At a time when the political agenda is rife; not just down to the Clinton vs Trump battle but the Brexit aftershock too, it’s a shrewd move by drinks brand Diageo. Especially when you consider that the pool of customers this campaign is relevant to is considerably smaller, given that the legal drinking age in the US is 21. Perhaps that’s the reason this social experiment is a slow-burner for the brand – with little over 3,500 / 100,000 signatures on the White House petition secured to date and a campaign tweet generating just 35 re-tweets so far – but I don’t think it matters. It’s significant that the Captain is even starting the conversation.

It’s not the first time a Diageo drink has spoken out. Smirnoff has long ‘come out’ as a supporter for same-sex marriage using the slogan ‘Every pairing is perfect.‘ Since then it’s continued the crusade, taking ownership of the topic to become a thought leader, by partnering with BOB to create limited edition #LoveWins vodka bottles in the colours of the Pride flag.

But don’t be fooled. This isn’t a call for brands to pluck issues out of thin air and stick them in a communications strategy. Just because something’s popular, doesn’t mean it’s positive. American Apparel and GAP are both guilty of using natural disasters to push products which, quite rightly, were rejected by the public. (Even as I type this I can’t believe those marketers thought it was a good idea!)

At Prime Time our advice is to start small. Use social monitoring to see what your customers are talking about and brainstorm some ideas about where you naturally fit into the conversation. Then marry this up with what you could actually say that’s worth listening to. 

Now, excuse us, while we pour a drink and research how to become an American citizen. We’ve got work to do. 

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