The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has voted to ban Poundland’s controversial “Elf Behaving Badly” campaign following a swathe of complaints.
The campaign, which ran over Christmas on the retailer’s Twitter and Facebook pages, featured a children’s toy elf in a number of sexualised scenarios.
Eight-five complaints were reportedly made about the advert, alongside calls from Twinings Tea to remove their product from an image which featured the elf dangling a tea bag over a female doll’s face with the caption “How do you take your tea? One lump or two?”
Despite Poundland defending the campaign stating that a “large number” of people found it amusing and that Twitter and Facebook laws prevented under-13s from having accounts enabling them to see the adverts, the ASA ruled that it was likely to cause widespread offence.
It also noted that although under-13s were prevented from creating accounts, the retailer’s pages were not age gated and could therefore be seen by anyone.
“We considered these ads were irresponsible and likely to cause serious or widespread offence by depicting a child’s toy in relation to such sexual acts, therefore breaching the Code,” the ASA said, adding that the adverts must not appear again.
In response Poundland said on behalf of the Elf: “Britain’s the home of saucy postcards, Carry On films and panto, so I’m sad the ASA found my double entendres hard to swallow.
“At least it’s only 84 people who had a sense of humour failure compared to the tens of thousands who got the joke and liked and shared my posts online.”