Wednesday, September 30, 1998 Published at 05:28 GMT 06:28 UK
Kevin the hamster: More than 500 people complained
A television advert in which a hamster dies has received a record number of complaints.
More than 500 viewers contacted the Independent Television Commission to complain about the Levi's advert.
The advert featured Kevin being poked with a pencil as it lay, apparently lifeless, on a bed of sawdust.
It called the ad a "somewhat flippant depiction of the apparent death of a household pet".
Levi's advertisement agency, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, argued that their intention was not to upset or shock viewers, but to make a humorous observation.
And Kevin was even brought out to reassure the concerned public that he was still alive.
It was part of Levi's new brand concept - "expect the unexpected".
"The aim of the campaign is certainly not to shock or offend but to entertain the viewer. No animals were harmed or suffered any discomfort during the filmimg of the ad," she said.
Kevin's owner Trevor Smith said the real Kevin had been inundated with offers of more star roles in adverts and TV programmes.
"I had to choose a stuffed dead hamster that looked like Kevin to take his place for the final scene. So it was not him at all," he said.
"But I knew this would happen. I can fully understand why children were upset and thought he was dead. I can assure you Kevin is alive and well and very loved."
"Hardly anyone used to complain about ads until a few years ago, but people now are more aware in these days of citizens' charters of their rights to complain about things they don't like.
"But there's also been a change in the tactics of advertisers. Before they were conscious television reached a broad audience and catered for the whole audience.
"Now they're targeting specific markets and aiming just at them - and often those outside the target group can be offended."
The Levi's ad beats the previous record holder - an ad for the Swedish furniture retailer Ikea from earlier this year which showed a boss thinking about sacking staff to pay for new furniture.
The ITC logged 410 complaints about the Ikea ad when it was broadcast earlier this year.
TV and Radio