Aldi's orange-hued Christmas showstopper, Kevin the Carrot, has found himself embroiled in controversy with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banning an ad featuring the mascot.
Almost three months after it first aired, and two months post-Christmas, a festive spot from the German supermarket has been spiked by the regulator after one viewer complained it was likely to promote alcohol to children.
The spot in question was not the centrepiece of Aldi's 2017 Christmas campaign, in which it revived Kevin and paired him up with a love interest. Instead, it was a shorter iteration of the 12-part campaign which promoted Aldi's spirits range.
At the start, Kevin declared: “I see dead parsnips" before a 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”.
The ending of the ad showed the carrot being frightened by another character dressed-up as a ghost in a traditional white blanket disguise.
One complainant challenged whether the ad was irresponsible because the animation was likely to have strong appeal to people under 18 years of age, and the ASA agreed.
While the watchdog noted that the 20-second film had not been transmitted during or adjacent to children’s programmes, Kevin the Carrot appeared to be "childlike and had a high-pitched voice, similar to that of a young child."
It pointed to the fact that Kevin was sold as a soft toy during the Christmas period, and that the way the ad was told "reminiscent of a children’s story" as evidence that the character was "likely to resonate with and strongly appeal to younger children".
Aldi's argument that the spot was intended to be humorous and was a pastiche adult film The Sixth Sense fell on deaf ears.
An Aldi spokesperson told The Drum: "We believe the content of this specific advert appealed to adults rather than children. The ad 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."
The ad is just the latest Christmas creative to be slapped with a ban from the ASA. Earlier this month, Poundland ended up on the watchdog's naught list for posting images of an x-rated elf on Twitter.