A word of warning: this blog post is not for the faint-hearted and features an advertising campaign some may find offensive.
It seems Poundland is determined to get itself on the ASA’s naughty list again this year with their Christmas advertising.
You may recall the budget retailer’s eyebrow-raising “Elf of the Shelf” campaign from 2017, featuring a toy elf in a range of sexually suggestive poses. It prompted widespread publicity and an upheld complaint from the ASA.
The rap on the knuckles from the regulator seems to have done little to deter Poundland, which has revived the theme of seasonal smut in their latest social media campaign.
The low-price chain shared a picture on Twitter of an open-mouthed woman alongside the caption: “For a friend who loves a good finger! Cadbury’s Fingers - £1 #SantaBanter”. We'll let you Google it yourselves.
After a sleigh-load of responses (good and bad), Poundland removed the tweet, saying: “We hear things get even more talked about when you take them down …!”
And it certainly hasn’t stopped some other off-colour posts remaining on their Twitter feed.
Courting controversy is a strategy that seems to work for Poundland, whose characteristically bargain-basement approach to advertising saw them spend just £25.53 on 2017's campaign. From the look of them, no expense has been wasted in creating this year’s ads either. But the headlines and social media shares they’ve generated? Priceless.
It's unlikely Cadbury is thrilled about its brand being used in this way - they might well demand some change from Poundland.
The ASA has yet to get involved in this year’s efforts from Poundland. For a complaint to be upheld, the ASA would have to conclude that the advertisement caused “serious or widespread offence”. Volume of complaints doesn’t always mean an upheld ruling – last year the ASA revealed the most complained about ads of 2017, and not a single one was upheld.
Some brands may be willing to take a risk with their advertising strategies given the ASA does not have the power to issue fines, in the hope that an upheld complaint will only result in yet more column inches. The irony of our blogging about it is not lost on us, don't worry.
Given that the ASA's most common sanction is to demand that an ad is pulled (too late) and bad publicity, this sort of deliberately provocative advertising no doubt leaves the ASA feeling like a bit of a turkey this Christmas; and while Poundland sits back and counts the engagement score of this single post, we wonder if the ASA might also be weighing its options.
“At this time of year, giving our customers a laugh is our (all-female) social media team’s only job as Poundland fills the nation’s stockings."