Captain Morgan has no plans to return to Snapchat as it maps out new routes to millennials

Four months ago Diageo froze spend with Snapchat globally after raising questions about the app’s age verification policies. Now Captain Morgan’s head of Europe Amy Mooney has told The Drum that the rum brand is in “no discussion” about working with the platform moving forward.

Discussing the brand’s latest responsibility campaign, for which it has enlisted the help of UK grime artist Lady Leshurr, she said: “Snap won’t be featured in this and there will be no discussion with them about working with them moving forward.”

The spirit maker’s parent firm, however, told The Drum that while it’s not got current plans for a Snapchat return, it’s in no way ruling out future conversations with the Venice Beach-based upstart.

Leshurr helped develop a thumping track and music video pinned around the brand’s ‘Live Like a Captain’ proposition, with lyrics delving into the pitfalls of excessive drinking on a night out.

The catchy, and youth-skewed drive would likely appeal to Snapchat’s largely millennial audience. However, Diageo has not spent with the app since pressing pause in January after an Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ban on Captain Morgan called into question the efficacy of Snap’s self-reporting age-verification process.

“It was a real shame, we were excited about that partnership," said Mooney. "Unfortunately for a number of reasons it wasn’t the right partnership for us in terms of responsibility, we did all the rigorous checks beforehand but unfortunately due to data inaccuracies and things like that it wasn’t feasible for us to work with any more.

“It was absolutely the right call for us to walk away from that because it materialised that the audience wasn’t who we thought it was.”

Diageo has confirmed that its issue is around Snap's reliance on self-declared age than than dataset anomaly. Over the past 12 months Snap has introduced more options for ad targeting around age, and queried “unreliable” figures supplied by Ofcom in January which claimed that 34% of eight to 11-year-olds had Snapchat profiles. Snap said its own calculations show a maximum of 16.5% of its addressable audience in the UK was under 18.

Another platform impacted by Diageo’s strict marketing code, and responsibility to ensure ads aren’t served to children or misplaced against inappropriate content, is YouTube – which the alcohol giant stopped spending with in the new year following the brand safety crisis at the end of 2017.

It will be pushing out Lady Leshurr’s ‘Live Like the Captain’ video natively on the platform, but won’t put media spend into pre or mid-roll YouTube slots.

“Our number one goal is to be responsible marketeers," said Mooney. "Are we seeing an impact [from pulling spend from YouTube]? We’ve put our funds and budgets behind other partnerships and as a result it’s not necessarily impacting negatively on our reach our engagement…it’s not necessarily affecting our brand performance.”

Fresh data released by 4C said Snapchat spend among advertisers has increased by 234% over the past 12 months, but its – and YouTube's – loss from Diageo is the gain of Facebook, Spotify and Instagram; where Captain Morgan is funneling the “sizable” investment it has earmarked for the responsibility campaign into social.

“It’s where this content more naturally sits,” said Mooney, revealing that Captain Morgan is already well “on track” to reaching the 4.5 million consumers it set out to.

Discussing the music video itself, Mooney said Lady Leshurr penned the track herself, and the brand sought her out not only for her talent, but because she has a voice on contemporary social issues.

"She has a great audience who are very engaged... the message had to resonate authentically with the audience so we had to make it credible," she added.

The brand hopes to extend the campaign into the on-trade, to further encourage responsible drinking in bars and nightclubs.

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