ASA bans Poundland’s lewd toy elf ad campaign

Poundland’s risque Christmas ads featuring a naughty elf playing strip poker and teabagging a Barbie doll have been banned by the advertising watchdog.

The budget retailer posted a series of eight images showing a toy elf in suggestive poses and sexualised positions with other toys in the run-up to Christmas.

The campaign, dubbed “elf behaving bad”, ran on Poundland’s Twitter and Facebook accounts with images including the elf on a donkey with the line “Don’t tell Rudolph I’ve found a new piece of ass”.

Other images showed the elf having drawn a pair of breasts on a car windscreen, sitting beside a sketch of a penis-shaped Christmas tree, and thrusting a toothbrush between its legs in a sexual manner.

The Advertising Standards Authority received 85 complaints that the ads were offensive for depicting “toy characters and other items displayed in a sexualised manner” and should not have been put on social media where children could see them.

Poundland defended the campaign arguing it was based on “humour and double entendres” that were not intended to be understood by children. The company added that Twitter and Facebook also have policies that are meant to ban under-13s from having accounts.

Poundland said that it never sought to encourage anyone other than adults to follow its Facebook and Twitter accounts, and that it did not intend to offend anyone.

(@Poundland)

Heard about our Elfie’s trouble with the ASA? Read his story at https://t.co/cnUFf2ZsR7 pic.twitter.com/AnUxICaDWj

February 7, 2018

The ASA said that Poundland’s social media pages were “not age-gated and could be seen by anyone”. The ad watchdog also said that the irreverent Christmas campaign had been shared widely on social media and would have been seen by “a large number of people, including some children”.

The ASA banned the campaign saying that depicting a child’s toy in such a sexualised manner, with sexual references and acts, where it could be seen by children was irresponsible and likely to cause widespread offence.

After the publication of the ruling, Poundland goaded the ASA on Twitter with a message from the elf locked up at “Wormwood Scrubbers” prison.

The tongue-in-cheek message said that Britain is the home of “saucy postcards, Carry On Films and panto” so it is a shame that the ASA found the “double entendres hard to swallow”.