Poundland caused controversy over the festive period, as it used the ‘Elf on the Shelf’ phenomenon to create a social media stir – mainly by posting suggestive and risqué Twitter posts of a ‘naughty elf’ toy in various sexual positions.
One post in particular caused the biggest storm after it showed the elf ‘tea bagging’ a doll (an actual teabag draped over a doll’s face in this instance) which many onlookers deemed to be misogynistic.
But while a broad swathe of social users condemned it, others praised the campaign for its humorous approach, urging people to get a sense of humour and see it for what it was – light hearted fun.
Poundland itself revelled in the PR that its social output was causing, with the tabloids covering it extensively as indignant anger flowed. Most brands tend to back down in the face of an online backlash, but Poundland was happy to fan the flames of its detractors’ fury, while enjoying the backing of its many supporters.
Clearly pleased with the Christmas outrage – and the reams of PR coverage, social shares and follower increase that came in its wake – the budget brand is looking to get a second slice of the indignant pie, as it’s now opting to focus on the Easter bunny and its ‘chicks’ in its next social campaign.
Poundland began it innocuously enough with a tweet introducing the bunny and the chick. However, the next post showed a seedier side, with bunny now ‘birdwatching’ as it looked at multiple chicks through a set of binoculars.
The third tweet then ramped it up even further, with bunny now being branded in a sensitive place by a chick with a hot iron, along with the caption: “I’ve got a way to make you hot and cross, Bunny.”
Bring the noise.
The Easter ‘initiative’ has already generated PR coverage (in a rolling eyes, disdainful kind of way) and social shares and it’s barely three posts in. The brand will no doubt up the controversy stakes as the campaign progresses, so it will be interesting to see what happens when it reaches peak outrage.
Tip of the cap to Poundland. As a budget brand, the approach doesn’t hold the same level of risk that it would for a luxury, high-end retailer. If you’re shopping in Poundland after all, it means your budget is fairly tight – and when needs must, it’s hard to take an ethical stance no matter how outraged you are. Poundland knows this, so isn’t too concerned about ruffling a few feathers.
I’m not sure this campaign will have the same impact as the last one (it’s been done before, clearly) but Poundland might as well have another bite of the anger apple while it still has the power to shock, or the power to get people talking at least.