Thanks to director Tom Hooper’s casting of Josh Burrow—the swashbuckling stud who’s actually up to the role of playing a buccaneer—those new Anomaly spots for Captain Morgan  have helped the frat-fave rum brand achieve the hitherto impossible: It’s finally growing up. But overlooked amid all the Web chatter about the dark and sexy new captain is the marketing vehicle that’s more likely to make the sale at the retail level—the dark and sexy new bottle.
It belongs to Captain Morgan Black, the higher-proof, “darker, bolder” spiced rum Diageo introduced last month and is currently in national rollout. Designed by Landor Associates, the bottle is an embossed cylinder with a bulged neck and cork stopper “that would have been similar to those found on Henry Morgan’s ship,” said Jesse Damashek, innovation director, at Diageo. A wraparound label with a yellowed hue and deckle edge (inspired by official trading documents of the Caribbean colonial era) imitate aged parchment. The captain himself remains largely unchanged, though he’s now rendered all in black, woodcut style.
But the bottle’s most memorable design feature is actually on the label’s reverse side (which means you need to drain the rum to see it). Morgan’s skeleton emerges from beneath his clothing alongside the scribed legend of how, after his 1688 death, an earthquake carried the pirate’s body out to sea.
Don’t believe it? You don’t have to. The bottle’s so different from the existing Morgan lineup that it’s already won some serious drinkers over. “It’s crucial for driving differentiation as consumers seek more interesting packaging designs,” Damashek said. Arrgh!