The TV advert was broadcast in the run up to Christmas to advertise ALDI’s range of spirits.
While supermarket ALDI said the humor and references in the advert would appeal to adults, the ASA ruled that the childlike nature and high-pitched voice of Kevin would appeal to children.
‘I see dead parsnips’
The theme of the advert played with a pun on spirits: opening with a reference to 1999 supernatural thriller film, The Sixth Sense, with Kevin whispering ‘I see dead parsnips’.
The voice-over 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”.
Various spirits were shown throughout the ad, which ended with Kevin being frightened by another character dressed up as a ghost.
ALDI said that the reference to the 1999 film (which is rated 15+) would only be appreciated by adults; and that the ad was not aired adjacent to programs that were likely to appeal to under 18s.
BCAP code 19.15.1
TV alcohol ads must not be likely to appeal strongly to people under 18, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture or showing adolescent or juvenile behavior
Ad was 'irresponsible', says ASA
While the ASA noted that the pun on spirits was not typical humor for children, it said the Christmas theme of the advert and overall tone contributed to the likelihood of Kevin appealing to under 18s.
“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.”
"Furthermore, we understood Kevin was sold as a soft toy during the Christmas period and was popular among under 18-year-olds, particularly young children."
Consequently the ASA ruled that the ad was likely to appeal strongly to people under 18 and given that is was promoting alcohol, was deemed to be irresponsible.
An ALDI spokesperson highlighted that the ruling applies only to this advert, not the whole campaign.
“We believe the content of this specific advert appealed to adults rather than children," said the spokesperson.
"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 Advertising Standards Agency’s ruling on this matter.”