Poundland’s aggressive, hyper-sexualised elf ad campaign has ruined Christmas

Objectifying women and insinuating sex acts, the character depicted on the shop’s social media is offending customers.

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This piece features screengrabs of "Elf Behaving Badly".

It wouldn’t be Christmas in the sordid year of 2017 without a gross man ruining it, and so Poundland delivered the goods on its Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Using a plastic elf with a suspiciously innocent expression, the discount store’s questionable publicity campaign objectifies women, and has been putting out generally inappropriate content for a family shop pretty much every day this month.

Here are some of the worst:

Photos: Twitter screenshots

Some didn’t find the elf an entertaining bit of marketing, with Twitter users accusing Poundland of “poor taste”, being “dodgy/crude” and “clickbait arseholes”, “taking sexism to a whole new level”, “losing their minds” and “inciting violence” and depicting “sexual assault” – with one user claiming to have reported the most recent one (involving a teabag) to Twitter and the police:

When asked about the offensiveness of the campaign, Poundland’s marketing director Mark Pym commented:

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

This gleeful response further suggests that Poundland is deliberately courting controversy for a bit of publicity (yes, I know I’m providing that in this very piece), but this is no reason to ignore it. With a huge chunk of its products being for children, it may regret running such a campaign – particularly when the recent case of Paperchase being shamed by consumers led it to changing its practices.

Anoosh Chakelian is the New Statesman’s Britain editor.

She co-hosts the New Statesman podcast, discussing the latest in UK politics.

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