Elf on the Shelf

Michel Curi/Flickr

People are really upset about these NSFW elf toy ads

Some expressed disgust—or were purely baffled by the lewd ads.

 

Kris Seavers

Internet Culture

Published Dec 21, 2017   Updated May 22, 2021, 7:10 am CDT

This isn’t the innocent Elf on the Shelf your mom loves.

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Poundland, a British budget retail store, stirred up controversy Thursday when it posted advertisements depicting an elf toy in various sexual positions.

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In one, the elf rides a plush donkey and says, “Don’t tell Santa I’ve found a new piece of ass.” In another, the elf appears to draw breasts on a car window.

One particularly controversial ad shows the elf dangling a bag of tea over a female doll wearing a T-shirt that says “Power.” “How do you take your tea? One lump or two?” the original caption said.

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Writer Caroline Criado Perez said the image directly attacked the #MeToo movement, which was sparked by women coming forward to share their experiences with sexual assault and sexual harassment.

“Baffled that @Poundland or in fact anyone with human empathy would do this,” Perez wrote.

https://twitter.com/CCriadoPerez/status/943871893622476800

An organization that supports victims of domestic abuse wrote, “How do you take your social media posts? One lump of outdated misogyny completely ignoring the current international agenda, or two?”

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Twinings Tea, which was featured in the tea bag ad, said it had “no involvement” in the image and that the ad “misuses” its product.

In response, Poundland removed the image and added a new one—this time, there’s no box of Twinings Tea in the background. The caption says, “Spot the difference…”

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Others expressed disgust—or were purely baffled by the lewd ads.

https://twitter.com/spiritualvodka/status/943932167628972037

https://twitter.com/GuardiolaSZN/status/943889176017108992

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Not everyone was offended. Some said they found the elf images “hilarious.”

Poundland’s account responded to suggestions it had been hacked, saying that was not the case.

Poundland’s marketing director Mark Pym defended the elf toy campaign, claiming it cost the company only about $30 to make.

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“If you think this is edgy, you should see the ones we didn’t post,” Pym told London’s Evening Standard. “The love on Facebook is overwhelming—that’s because it connects with our shoppers. In fact, we’re proud of a campaign that’s only cost £25.53 and is being touted as the winning marketing campaign this Christmas!”

The Standard reported that the Advertising Standards Authority has received at least eight complaints about the vulgar holiday-themed posts.

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*First Published: Dec 21, 2017, 4:49 pm CST