The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has given its definitive answer as to whether or not Paddington Bear was sworn at by a frustrated burglar in this year's M&S Christmas ad, stating that viewers hearing anything other than "thank-you little bear" are mistaken.
Social media users were quick to spot a potential conspiracy after many professed to have mistakenly heard the exchange as "fuck you, little bear", forcing the retailer to publicly clarify that profanity was not a feature in its heartwarming script.
The contested exchange centres on the parting words delivered by a burglar bearing an uncanny resemblance to Santa Claus after his nocturnal thievery was brought to an abrupt end by the Peruvian mammal.
In a statement an ASA spokesman said: “Whilst we appreciated that some viewers may have misinterpreted this, the ad did not contain a swearword and therefore did not break the rules.”
The affair has sparked consternation in the offices of Grey London, which produced the ad, with chief executive Leo Rayman, saying: “Who would think we would allow a small, loveable little bear to be sworn at. It is for celebrating family generosity and Christmas spirit. It is supposed to be a moment of kindness. Of course we wouldn’t put a swear word in a Christmas TV ad. It is funny how some people react to Christmas advertising.”
The affair will do little to hurt the return of Paddington to the big screen with the sequel garnering stellar reviews from critics.