A rum deal

08 May 2017 | Lloyd Hughes

Last year, Captain Morgan rum spotted a golden PR opportunity to make Leicester City’s captain, Wes Morgan, the face of the brand. Given the unexpected, stellar success of that season it was an opportunity that it really couldn’t afford to let slip by – a once in a lifetime chance, much like Leicester’s title win.

At the time, the brand would have had half an eye on this season too no doubt, hoping the Foxes could emulate it – at least to some extent – and then it would further cash in on the name association. But (a glimmer of Champions League success aside), Leicester’s fortunes this season were far removed from that of 2015/16. The club was roundly criticised for sacking title winning manager Claudio Ranieri midway through the season following a run of disappointing results, with many believing he should have been given the whole season in lieu of the remarkable achievement just a few months before.

Wes Morgan didn’t come off well in the subsequent fallout – he was one of 4 players it was suggested had been, if not behind, then certainly involved with the decision to sack the affable Italian.

Good ol’ Captain Wes Morgan was lambasted on social media and branded a snake for his supposed part. This is a tricky time for a brand, as sponsoring an individual puts you in their corner, whether they’ve been up to good or bad. Captain Morgan must have been having second thoughts about associating itself with a ‘snake’.

Leicester’s revival since Ranieri’s sacking has helped to smooth things over, and it now looks like the right choice had been made to let him go, no matter how ruthless it seemed at the time. The ill will for the club has certainly subsided since. But at the time of turmoil, Captain Morgan must have been looking for someone else to champion its brand in Wes’s place, and fortunately for them, there’s another famous Captain Morgan out there.

Eoin Morgan, of cricketing fame, not only has the right moniker but he’s also captain of the England ODI team. With summer cricket season about to commence, what better time to unveil the latest captain to come aboard.

The rum brand, produced by alcohol giant Diageo, has put Eoin Morgan on the front of a limited number of bottles, as well as putting its Captain Morgan brand name on his cricket bat for prime product placement.

The rum maker hasn’t ditched Wes Morgan yet, as he welcomed his namesake on Twitter to Captain Morgan sponsorship, but you can bet if Leicester were on the brink of relegation and playing poorly, with serpentine Wes a maligned Captain at the helm, he’d no doubt be walking the sponsorship plank.

For now though, it makes sense to keep both in place. Having a quirky brand name gives you an occasional opportunity to exploit it and having two famous sporting stars of the same name, holding the appropriate office, is a pretty rare occurrence. Tip of the cap to Captain Morgan for going for it – I don’t imagine sponsorship comes cheap when the negotiating party has your brand as their name. After all, how many other famous Captain Morgan’s are out there that you can turn to? Let's hope England's cricketing success this summer will make it all worthwhile...