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Captain Morgan’s Search for the Real Morgan's Brand Treasure

Captain Morgan???s Search for the Real Morgan's Brand Treasure
Illustration by 731, photograph by Getty

Next month, a team of marine archaeologists sponsored by Captain Morgan, the rum maker owned by London-based beverage conglomerate Diageo, will begin its first thorough excavation of a shipwreck located near the Lajas Reef off the coast of Panama. They believe that the wrecked hull and its accompanying cargo belong to a fleet commanded in 1671 by the ruthless British buccaneer Admiral Henry Morgan—yes, the rum’s eponymous captain.

Longstanding brands often use their origin stories in ad campaigns as a way of building a greater sense of history and authenticity. Products focusing on craftsmanship and premium quality tend to rely on this strategy—examples include Guinness’s proud reminders of its 253-year lineage, Bushmills’s “Since Way Back” ads, or Chevrolet’s Americana-soaked “Welcome to Bridgeville” campaign. Even fast-food chain Wendy’s, a youthful enterprise by comparison, has gotten into the retro game, having featured its namesake Melinda Lou “Wendy” Morse, the founder’s daughter, in commercials since 2010. More recently it launched a reboot of its famous “Where’s the Beef?” commercials from the 1980s.