Why everyone is talking about Poundland's bizarre Christmas elf adverts

Poundland are running a bizarre Christmas marketing campaign that has stunned and angered many on social media.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 22nd December 2017, 8:30 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 5:19 am

On the discount store’s Facebook and Twitter pages a series of pictures depicting a toy elf in an assortment of rude positions has caused a stir online.

Yesterday, Poundland posted an innuendo laced image of an innocent looking elf dangling a Twinings teabag over a female doll, which left many questioning if the firm’s marketing department had gone rogue.

But the struggling retailer - who placed their ‘99p’ stores in administration this year - insist the rude snaps are all part of their “winning” Christmas marketing plan.

Poundland’s Marketing Director Mark Pym siad: “If you think this is edgy, you should see the ones we didn’t post.

“The love on Facebook is overwhelming - that’s because it connects with our shoppers. “In fact, we’re proud of a campaign that’s only cost £25.53 and is being touted as the winning marketing campaign this Christmas!”

Other adverts from the campaign see the elf rubbing its back side with a toothbrush, playing strip poker and relaxing in a sink with two dolls. There’s no denying the campaign has attracted a lot attention, but not everyone has found the Elf on the Shelf doll’s antics funny

Tea company Twinings accused Poundland of “misusing” its product after the budget retailer used the brand’s teabags in one of its crass Christmas-themed tweets.

In a statement, Twinings said: “We are aware of an image that is circulating that misuses our product. We had no involvement in this and it is obviously not reflective of our brand values.”

Twitter users were shocked by the image, which has been retweeted over 3,000 times.

Poundland later deleted the offending tweet, replacing it with an image showing the elf in the act, but without a box of Twinings teabags in the background.

The caption accompanying the new tweet read: “Spot the difference...”.

Charity Women’s Aid responded on Twitter, writing: “How do you take your social media posts? One lump of outdated misogyny completely ignoring the current international agenda, or two?”

And Comedian Jason Manford asked: “Is it someone’s last day at Poundland”?

When asked by a user if the retailer’s account has been hacked, social media staff member Zoe replied: “The Poundland account has not been hacked. I am sorry that you feel this way and will share your feedback.”

Social media response

Reaction to the adverts has been mixed among the public. Writing on Twitter, @snowandbeach said: “I’m all for a laugh but Poundland have taken this Elf on a shelf thing a little too far.

“You wouldn’t expect to see these images in a shop window & therefore they shouldn’t be online. I’m sure the Advertising Standards Agency need to see these.”

User @oldbob1944 was similarly unimpressed: “Dirty b******s! I won’t be shopping at Poundland again, despite the low prices.”

Many questioned the timing of the posts in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the continued drive to call out and end sexual harassment towards women through the #MeToo campaign.

“With the recent #MeToo campaign, Poundland, & their disgraceful response have just been reported by myself to the authorities,” @Karenkati83 wrote on Twitter.

@pneal added: “This is in such poor taste and the fact it’s part of a misogynistic series of ads, in the year of #MeToo as well, WTF @Poundland #NotFunny.”

Author and activist for female representation in the media Caroline Criado Perez commented: “What a tedious attempt at outrage marketing. Hope it blows up in your face.”

But some applauded the retailers attempts at humour. “I don’t know who’s in charge of Poundland’s twitter but give them a raise!,” wrote @illucifer on social media.

While @2010LeeHurst raged, “I just read some of the tweets in uproar at Poundland’s tweet. I really do not want to live in a society run by these dull, dull sanctimonious t***s. Go get a life to replace the one you’ve wasted you boring people.”

Poundland’s future remains unclear after its beleaguered parent company, Steinhoff International, hit a new low on Tuesday when its shares plunged by almost 35 per cent and it faced a lawsuit from disgruntled German investors.