Poundland has been accused of putting a ‘middle finger up’ to the Me Too movement after promoting a series of sexually suggestive posts in its Christmas campaign.
The bargain retailer has been sharing a barrage of bizarre images on Twitter and Facebook showing an elf in suggestive positions with provocative captions.
One image that caused particular furore showed the elf dangling a teabag between his legs over a female doll wearing a t-shirt with the word ‘power’. The caption read: ’How do you take your tea? One lump or two?’.
Twinings, whose tea featured in the post, has accused Poundland of “misusing” its product. “We had no involvement in this and it is obviously not reflective of our brand values,” said a Twinings spokeswoman.
The post has since been deleted and republished using a generic teabag without the Twinings box.
Caroline Criado Perez, whose campaign for a woman to appear on a banknote resulted in Jane Austen being selected for the £10 note, said the tweet was an “absolutely transparent attempt to cash in on the outrage market”.
She tweeted: ‘The T shirt she’s wearing positions this as a middle finger up at the #metoo movement. Baffled that @Poundland or in fact anyone with human empathy would do this.’
The Women’s Equality Party dismissed the campaign as a “pathetic attention grab showing a complete disregard for women consumers”. “We look forward to its customers voting with their feet in 2018,” a spokesman for the Women’s Equality Party said.
Meanwhile, Women’s Aid tweeted: ‘How do you take your social media posts? One lump of outdated misogyny completely ignoring the current international agenda, or two?’
Other posts show the elf playing cards with naked dolls and lying in bed with dolls. Another showed the elf riding a donkey toy with the caption: ‘Don’t tell Rudolph I’ve found a new piece of ass.’
The Advertising Standards Authority said it had already received 50 complaints about the posts. “The general nature of the complaints is that the tweets are offensive and unsuitable to be seen by children,” it said. “We will carefully assess the complaints to establish whether there are grounds to investigate. No investigation has been launched at this stage.”
But Poundland marketing director Mark Pym has hit back at the criticism, saying they are “proud of a campaign that’s only cost £25.53”.
“If you think this is edgy, you should see the ones we didn’t post,” he said. “The love on Facebook is overwhelming - that’s because it connects with our shoppers.”