The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has launched an investigation into a lewd Christmas campaign from Poundland which left customers red-faced.
The UK advertising watchdog has confirmed to The Drum that it has received over 80 complaints about the Twitter promotion, which depicted a toy elf 'teabagging' a female doll.
The general nature of the complaints, said the ASA, is centered around the idea that they are offensive for depicting toy characters in a sexualised manner. In addition, some members of the public believed the ads were unsuitable because they were displayed in a targeted medium where children could see them.
As well as landing itself in hot water with customers, Poundland also managed to offend Twinings – the brand of tea inadvertently featured in the image. The advertiser distanced itself from the campaign at the time, saying: "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."
Poundland then responded by tweeting an updated version of the image without the Twinings box, asking its followers if they spotted the difference.
The unsavoury tweet, which has been described as "misogynistic" and "sexist" managed to drum up some PR for Poundland during the crucial festive retail period.
Over the course of December, the budget retailer offered up its own take on the popular 'Elf on the Shelf' tradition, which is typically reserved for parents looking to bring the magic of Christmas to life for kids via a mischievous puppet.
Poundland's iterations instead included a number of adult jokes and pop-culture pastiches.
That’s one way to scratch that itch. That’s not Santa’s toothbrush is it?! pic.twitter.com/bzgX3LFEDA
— Poundland (@Poundland) December 13, 2017
I came in like a... pic.twitter.com/j5z2V6PxGs
— Poundland (@Poundland) December 6, 2017
That's one very prickly Christmas tree pic.twitter.com/5FyYrlAzss
— Poundland (@Poundland) December 18, 2017
The outcome of the ASA's investigation is likely to be known in the coming months.