WATCH: This Aldi 'Kevin the Carrot' Christmas alcohol ad banned and branded 'irresponsible'
Aldi said Kevin was not designed to appeal specifically to under-18s
A Christmas advert for the supermarket giant Aldi has been criticised for appealing strongly to children while marketing alcohol.
The television ad, one in the supermarket’s 12-part festive campaign, showed a computer-generated image of a carrot which began with it saying “I see dead parsnips.”
This was followed by a voice-over rhyme that ended: "There were a few spirits that cold Christmas night. Award winning bottles for raising a toast and one frightened carrot had just seen a ghost."
The ending of the ad showed the carrot being frightened by another character dressed up as a ghost with a white blanket over them, while scenes throughout showed various bottles of spirits.
A viewer complained that the ad was irresponsible because it was likely to strongly appeal to people under 18 years old.
Aldi said Kevin the Carrot was meant to be funny but was not designed to appeal specifically to under-18s, while the target audience for its Christmas campaign were adults.
The ad made reference to the 1999 film The Sixth Sense, which was rated a 15 in the UK and was therefore not suitable for children under 15 years old.
Clearance agency Clearcast said the ad was given the appropriate scheduling restriction for featuring alcohol, meaning that it did not screen during or around children’s programmes.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said Kevin appeared to be childlike and had a high-pitched voice, similar to that of a young child, while the character was sold as a soft toy during the Christmas period.
We will abide by the ASA's ruling on this matter Aldi spokeswoman
The ASA said: "We therefore considered that Kevin was likely to have strong appeal to audiences under the age of 18."
It said the tone of the dialogue and poem was reminiscent of a children’s story, while the end of the ad showing Kevin being frightened by another character dressed up as a ghost would be particularly funny for younger children.
"Because of that, we considered the ad was likely to appeal strongly to people under 18 and given that it was promoting alcohol, we concluded was irresponsible," the watchdog concluded.
An Aldi spokeswoman said: "We believe the content of this specific advert appealed to adults rather than children. The advert was also subject to broadcast restrictions so that it did not appear adjacent to any programmes aimed at under-18s.
"Nevertheless we will abide by the ASA’s ruling on this matter."