Viewers criticise Levi’s hamster ad

By HARRIET GREEN, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 28 August 1998 12:00AM

More than 200 viewers have complained to the Independent Television Commission about a new Levi’s commercial which depicts the death of a pet hamster called Kevin.

More than 200 viewers have complained to the Independent Television

Commission about a new Levi’s commercial which depicts the death of a

pet hamster called Kevin.



The film, created by Levi’s agency, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, will not be

seen on TV again. Levi’s claims that this was always the plan and is not

as a result of the complaints.



Amanda Le Roux, Levi’s marketing director, said: ’The hamster ad was

created as part of our new campaign which highlights different forms of

originality. Each execution sets up a bizarre or surreal situation on

the street, making you look twice, think a bit about what you’re looking

at or just making you laugh. The aim is certainly not to shock or offend

but to entertain the viewer. The ad was widely researched and this was

the out-take chosen by all the respondents.’



She added: ’Our media plan for the campaign is such that a different ad

will appear each weekend. ’Hamster’ was scheduled for the start of the

campaign to appear during one weekend only.’



An ITC spokeswoman said: ’We have had more than 200 complaints. It is

quite a significant number and a very swift response. People are saying

the ad is in bad taste, has no relevance to the product and some are

saying that children have been upset.’



She added: ’The ITC has not had a chance to respond. However, it is

unusual for us to uphold complaints about matters of taste. Sometimes

the matter is resolved by timing restrictions.’ Currently there are no

watershed restrictions on the ad.



The ad opens with a shot of Kevin happily running on his exercise

wheel.



The wheel breaks and Kevin dies of boredom. The final scene shows the

hamster being prodded by its owner with a pencil to see if he is still

alive. The stiff corpse falls over.



Levi’s abandoned its ’boy meets girl’ advertising formula earlier this

month in favour of a surreal approach. The ads mark a radical departure

for the company as it attempts to hold its position in the crowded

jeanswear market.



Other films in the new series feature a young boy hammering a square peg

into a round hole and a half-naked male who walks through a shopping

mall wearing only a Levi’s hooded sweatshirt.



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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