A TV ad for Aldi featured a computer-generated image of a carrot that stated, “I see dead parsnips”. The voice-over then stated, “Kevin was feeling a little bit tense. He thought there were spirits. He had a sixth sense. As it turned out his instincts were right. 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 Kevin the carrot being frightened by another character dressed-up as a ghost with a white blanket over them.
Throughout the ad were scenes showing various bottles of spirits.
One complainant challenged whether the ad was irresponsible because it was likely to have strong appeal to people under 18 years of age.
Aldi Stores Ltd stated whilst Kevin the Carrot (Kevin) was intended to be humorous, it was not designed to have specific appeal to under-18s. Aldi believed much of the humour in the situations in which Kevin had been placed since his first appearance in 2016 was of a nature that would be more appealing to adults than to children. Furthermore, the target audience for their Christmas campaign were adults.
Aldi stated the ad was part of their 2017 Christmas campaign in which Kevin played a part in a number of parodies of well-known films. The majority of the ads in the campaign featured references to those films, which were several decades old and/or were largely adult in nature or appeal.
The ad in question made references to a 1999 supernatural thriller film, which featured a boy who could see dead people. The ad’s opening line “I see dead parsnips” was a darkly humorous reference to a line from that film, which was rated certificate 15 in the UK and therefore, not suitable for children under 15 years of age.
Aldi stated because the ad was promoting alcohol, it was scheduled in accordance with the BCAP Code and therefore was not aired adjacent to programmes likely to appeal to under-18s.
Clearcast stated Aldi’s 2017 Christmas campaign directly referenced a number of films from popular culture, which they considered were unlikely to appeal to children. Looking at the campaign as a whole, Clearcast considered that Kevin and the overall theme were all likely to have general appeal rather than appealing specifically to under-18s, and therefore considered that it was acceptable to feature the character in ads that featured alcohol.
Clearcast stated the ad was given the appropriate scheduling restriction that applied to all ads featuring alcohol, therefore the ad was not transmitted in or adjacent to children's programmes or programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal particularly to audiences below the age of 18.
The ASA noted the ad was subject to a broadcast restriction which meant it was not transmitted during or adjacent to children’s programmes, which included all programmes commissioned for, directed at or likely to appeal to under-18 audiences. The BCAP Code required alcohol ads must not be likely to appeal strongly to people under 18 years of age, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture or showing adolescent or juvenile behaviour.
We considered that Kevin the Carrot appeared to be childlike and had a high-pitched voice, similar to that of a young child. Furthermore, we understood Kevin was sold as a soft toy during the Christmas period and was popular amongst under 18-year-olds, particularly young children. We therefore considered that Kevin was likely to have strong appeal to audiences under the age of 18.
We also considered the Christmas theme of the ad contributed to the likelihood of Kevin having strong appeal to under-18s. We noted that choir music was played in the background whilst the voice-over told a short and simple narrative poem. Although the content of the dialogue and poem, which made use of a pun on “spirits”, was not typical content for children, we considered the tone was reminiscent of a children’s story, therefore it was likely to resonate with and strongly appeal to younger children. Furthermore, we considered the ending of the ad showing Kevin being frightened by another character dressed-up as a ghost would be particularly funny for younger children and consequently, contributed to the overall effect of the ad having strong appeal to under-18s.
Because of that, we considered the ad was likely to appeal strongly to people under18 and given that it was promoting alcohol, we concluded was irresponsible.
The ad breached BCAP Code rule 19.15.1 19.15.1 be likely to appeal strongly to people under 18, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture or showing adolescent or juvenile behaviour /p>
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Aldi that their future ads for alcohol must not be likely to appeal strongly to people under18 years of age.