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    Captain Morgan Gold Discontinued

    Diageo kills brand despite large media budget.

    NEW YORK -- In what may signal the beginning of a weeding-out process in the flavored malt beverage (FMB) segment, UK-based Diageo plc yesterday announced that its Captain Morgan Gold brand would be pulled.

    The brand, modeled after the company's popular Captain Morgan spiced rum, had several problems before it hit shelves. Concerns over taste delayed the brand's initial launch, and some industry experts have argued that the drink was rushed to market without adequate preparation, despite the brand's $10.8-million media budget.

    Some industry analysts predict the brand's failure portends tough times for the FMB segment, yet Diageo -- whose portfolio includes a vast assortment of the world's most popular liquor brands -- is remaining bullish. The company's Smirnoff Ice brand, which spearheaded the FMB segment's phenomenal 133-percent growth in 2001, continued to dominate category growth this year as well.

    The company reportedly has several new beverages in the pipeline, focusing on white spirits, such as Jose Cuervo Tequila, and will soon roll out Smirnoff Triple Black Ice --a spinoff of its original hit positioned to appeal to men.

    Beer Marketer's Insights reports that the FMB segment represented 3 percent of all beer sold in supermarkets through Sept. 29.

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