Most pre-Christmas ad campaigns are more or less forgotten after the Festive Season, but Poundland’s Naughty Elf has returned to prominence long after the decorations have been taken down.
The BBC reports that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has condemned the Naughty Elf social media ad campaign for being “irresponsible” because of its innuendo and sexually explicit content.
As has happened before, and through no fault of its own, the ASA has acted as a means to further publicise an ad campaign and increase public awareness of a brand by voicing its criticism. If the ASA’s stance is seen as unfair, stuffy or prim, then the brand’s marketing strategy wins brownie points.
So has the Naughty Elf been a funny winner or a smutty loser? And will he encourage more people to shop at Poundland or muddy their image with consumers?
What’s the Strategy?
Poundland is known for supplying a wide range of goods at very inexpensive prices. They say about their mission on their website that: “We work hard to bring you amazing value products every day with over two-thirds being sourced from the UK.”
This is an attractive message for consumers, especially those on low incomes, and positions Poundland as supporting British suppliers. The best ad and marketing campaigns are able to communicate key messages such as this, but any constructive brand messages seem distinctly lacking from the Naughty Elf appearances on social media. If the campaign is remembered at all amongst the wider public, it’s likely to be for the Elf rather than Poundland.
Christmas campaigns are different, of course, but they still need to reflect brand values. This campaign positions Poundland as producing inferior tabloid style content, cheap and not particularly cheerful. Apart from featuring an elf toy, it had very little to do with Christmas.
Demeaning and Dated
Some of the posts have also been described by the ASA as demeaning to women. While you can run the risk of sounding pompous about this, especially when describing scenarios using toys and dolls, the fact is that what might have been accepted in the past as “just a bit of fun” does not raise much of a smile today. While not everybody would find the campaign offensive, many would think it distinctly dated and inconsistent with a forward-looking modern discount retailer.
Poundland’s marketing director is quoted by the BBC as being proud of the campaign which, he claims “is being touted as the winning marketing campaign this Christmas!”
Well, marketing awards may please marketing people, but generally have little effect on the public at large. We admire Poundland’s ability to offer shoppers a range of desirable products at knock-down prices but believe this campaign has done the brand no favours.