Marketing Advertising Standards Authority Poundland

Poundland's naughty elf campaign returns: 'it will be the ASA’s worst nightmare’


By John McCarthy | Media editor

November 1, 2018 | 3 min read

Discount retailer Poundland has teased the return of its controversial X-rated elf campaign that irked the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), Twinings, the Elf on the Shelf company and Twitter users who accused it of "misogynistic" and "sexist" behaviour.


Poundland's Elfie makes a controversial return

Last year, the inflammatory 'Elf Behaving Badly' social media campaign cost the retailer just £25. Each day of December, the advent calendar-style drive positioned naughty elves in compromising positions to promote Poundland goods, courting controversy among social media users with a graphic illustration of an elf ‘teabagging’ a female doll.

Twinings accused the retailer of misusing its teabag product in the promotion while the owner of the Elf on the Shelf brand was forced to contact those in the press misidentifying the elf as its own.

Months later, the (ASA) banned the ad (after 80 complaints) – but that has not dissuaded the brand that is keen to gain some notoriety again this Christmas.

Yet again, its social media feeds will be laden with what it described as the “advertising regulator’s worst nightmare” – an open challenge to the ASA.

From 1 December, the company will roll out a fresh campaign with triple the budget of the first effort - exactly £76.59.

Elfie - as it has been dubbed - will now be accompanied by a female companion called Elvie in order to “double the impact” of the campaign.

Further goading the ASA, the brand claimed Elfie was imprisoned to under-go Anti Smut Alleviation (ASA) therapy. It threatened: “It remains to be seen whether Poundland’s Elf will emerge a reformed character and take what may well be the last chance to redeem himself.”

The campaign will be synced with the multimillion-pound ad campaign launches from “posh retail elves”. Odds are the retailer will look to issue rude, reactive works parodying these efforts, with it mentioning Elton John and Take That spots in a press release announcing its return.

Rhetoric aside, Poundland claimed its budget campaign generated 33m impressions, 4m engagements and 43k new followers on its social media. It appears not only undeterred by ASA bans, but catalysed by them.

Poundland has 850 stores in the UK and Ireland. Below is the new creative teasing the campaign.

Marketing Advertising Standards Authority Poundland

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