Budget retailer accused of misogyny after ‘bizarre’ series of tweets featuring obscene elf

A shopping basket in a Poundland store
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A British retailer has caused controversy on Twitter by posting tweets featuring a toy elf dressed as Santa Claus in a series of sexually suggestive positions.

One of the tweets by Poundland showed the elf next to a box of British brand Twinings tea and in a compromising position with the doll. Poundland has since posted the image without the box of tea after Twinings tweeted: "We are aware of an image that is circulating that misuses our product. This is to confirm that we had no involvement in this and that it is obviously not reflective of our brand values." Other images include the elf at a table playing poker with a naked male doll and two female dolls.

British charity 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 One lump of outdated misogyny completely ignoring the current international agenda, or two?"

A spokesperson for the U.K.'s Advertising Standards Authority said that it had received more than 50 complaints about the tweets. "The general nature of the complaints is that the tweets are offensive and unsuitable to be seen by children. We will carefully assess the complaints to establish whether there are grounds to investigate. No investigation has been launched at this stage."

Poundland's Marketing Director Mark Pym said in an emailed statement: "If you think this is edgy, you should see the ones we didn't post. 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!"

"This is Britain, the home of the double entendre and the saucy postcard. Thankfully our customers get the joke," he added.

Poundland is owned by South African company Steinhoff International, which is at the center of an accounting scandal that saw its CEO Markus Jooste resign earlier this month.