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
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
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.