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Brand Profile: The Captain Has a Dark Side

Posted on  | April 2, 2012   Bookmark and Share
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 Black Spiced Rum from Captain Morgan Targets Whisky Drinkers.

Think Captain Morgan, amplified. That is what consumers can expect from Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum, hitting shelves in late April. With more flavor, a richer body, a higher-alcohol content and greater complexity, Black Spiced is designed to appeal to whisky drinkers—those who prefer their brown spirits straight or on the rocks.

“Black is the next step in the evolution of the brand,” says Tom Herbst, brand director for Captain Morgan USA. Spiced Black isn’t the brand’s first line extension. In 2008 Diageo launched Captain Morgan 100 Proof which was created to deliver more taste, and give a stronger punch to cocktails; it continues to be a success. “What we learned from 100 Proof is that consumers are willing to grow as Captain Morgan premiumizes,” says Herbst. “They are willing to pay more for a spirit that offers something truly unique.”

Perfect for Sipping & Mixing

While Black Spiced still has the spice character that consumers have come to expect from the brand, the blend is different. “There is more clove flavor and a bolder taste profile overall,” Herbst explains. Made with a blend of black strap rum finished in double charred oak barrels, Black Spiced has more layers of flavor than the original. Developed to be delicious straight and on the rocks, Black Spiced “gives people the opportunity to drink Captain in a whisky occasion.”

Which is not to say it doesn’t make a mean cocktail. In fact, a major reason Black Spiced is offered at 94.6 proof is because that’s the optimum strength for classic cocktails—“it helps the overall balance of the drink, and enables the flavor to really come through,” says Herbst. Early trial-and-error behind the bar has resulted in deliciously simple cocktails—Black Spiced with a few splashes of ginger ale—to the more complex: “We’ve developed a few recipes where Black Spiced essentially takes the place of whisky, such as in an Old Fashioned or the ‘Perfectly Black Manhattan.’ It makes beautiful classic cocktails with a rum twist.”

Redefining Spiced Rum

There has been a lot of noise in the spiced rum world of late. While Captain Morgan has always maintained its position as leader (by a lot), many competitors have entered the field. “We began to see more overlap between spiced rum and other categories like whisky,” says Herbst, so this line extension seemed like a natural next step. Black Spiced also presents the brand with an opportunity to “reclaim our fundamental attributes of masculinity and premiumness,” he adds, and fits completely in line with Captain Morgan’s campaign, “To Life, Love and Loot.”

If there’s one word to describe the Captain Morgan consumer, it’s loyal—once introduced to the brand, they tend to stick with it for a very long time. Attracting a range of young LDA consumers, research has shown that it appeals to men and women equally. “The story of real-life brand icon Captain Henry Morgan is very appealing, and a big part of this product is helping to tell those stories,” Herbst says.

Black Spiced is still in its infancy—cases began shipping end of February and the marketing push begins in April—but there is already great excitement in the trade. Stay tuned for the full marketing plan to be unleashed, complete with three new TV spots, a massive digital program and an underground music series with Fader magazine. “Like Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum, this product has a lot of legs on-premise: It is a gorgeous pack that really stands out on the back bar; it’s a phenomenal liquid that makes a great shot.”  


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