Aldi has defended one of its Christmas adverts featuring Kevin the Carrot after it was banned for “promoting alcohol” to under-18s.

The discounter’s festive TV ad, which was part of a 12-part campaign, featured a rhyme about alcohol and a reference to the film The Sixth Sense – rated a 15.

The ad began with computer-generated character Kevin the Carrot saying: “I see dead parsnips.”

Later in the ad, a voiceover added: “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 bottles of spirits are shown during the advert, which Aldi insisted was intended for “adults rather than children”.

But the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said Kevin was a childlike character and had a high-pitched voice similar to that of a young child.

Kevin the Carrot was also sold as a soft toy by Aldi over the Christmas period.

“We therefore considered that Kevin was likely to have strong appeal to audiences under the age of 18,” the ASA said in its ruling.

The watchdog added that the poem read in the voiceover was similar to a children’s story.

“Because of that, we considered the ad was likely to appeal strongly to people under 18 and given that it was promoting alcohol, we concluded was irresponsible,” the ASA concluded.

An Aldi spokesman said: “We believe the content of our advert appealed to adults rather than children.

“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.”