Brent Celek Capt MorganIt seemed like a great marketing and public relations idea at the time.

Diageo, the importer of Captain Morgan Rum, would donate money to the National Football League’s retired player charity every time a player struck the Captain Morgan “Got a little Captain in you” pose after scoring a touchdown.

And they pulled it off, too. This month, Philadelphia Eagles tight end Brent Celek posed in the end zone after scoring a touchdown in the 20-16 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Problem is, once the NFL Commissioner’s office got wind of the “ambush marketing” promotion, they quickly scuttled it – just like they did when Chicago Bears then-quarterback Jim McMahon tried to sport an Adidas headband, and was fined $5,000.

Here’s the NFL spokesman’s take from Yahoo! Sports: “A company can’t pay a player to somehow promote it’s product on the field. Every league has the same rule. It’s come up before, companies trying to use our games and then players for ambush marketing purposes.”

All arguments aside about whether this was a valid effort for a worthy cause, or whether the commissioner was right in protecting the NFL brand, the questions remains:

Where’s the real value in this form of guerrilla or ambush marketing?

In sneaking the promo under the NFL’s radar?

In getting some coverage on the first week?

In gaining weeks of coverage in such media as USAToday (insert link http://content.usatoday.com/communities/thehuddle/post/2009/11/nfl-to-captain-morgan-players-ambush-marketing-wont-be-tolerated/1) and the blogosphere (insert drudge link http://www.drudge.com/news/127123/nfl-makes-captain-morgan-walk-plank) ?

Certainly was fodder for Captain Morgan’s Facebook fan page, too (http://www.facebook.com/CaptainMorganUSA)

For the record, here’s Captain Morgan’s take, “In hopes of raising brand awareness, Captain Morgan intended to offer lucrative contributions in exchange for each instance a player was caught on camera doing its pose during a game. The contributions were earmarked for the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund – a non-profit which helps retired NFL players with various hardships after leaving the game.”

Guerrilla marketing can be powerfully memorable. For those organizations willing to flout the rules of an organization like the NFL to get its name out there, it could be worth the cost. We imagine the people at Diageo are pretty happy with the treasure chest worth of exposure they’ve amassed. Talk about gold bullion.

It has to rank among the quietest and shortest-lived advertising ambush campaigns in sports history. Effective, too – as it has people talking. We’ll drink to that…