The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has launched an investigation into Poundland’s lewd ‘Elf on the Shelf’ Twitter campaign.

The UK advertising watchdog told The Drum that it received over 80 complaints about the ads, which depicted a toy elf acting inappropriately with a female doll.

The ASA said that the complaints were mostly about the images being offensive for depicting toy characters in a sexualised manner.

Some argued that the ads were unsuitable because they were displayed in a targeted medium where children could see them.

The Steinhoff-owned value retailer was also blasted by Twinings tea for using its brand in one of the images without its permission.

The tea manufacturer demanded the Twinings box be removed and said: “We are aware of an image that is circulating that misuses our product. We had no involvement in this and it is obviously not reflective of our brand values.”

The retailer, which has been under the cosh since its owner unveiled accounting irregularities, appeared proud of its controversial PR stunt in the run-up to Christmas.

In a statement, marketing director Mark Pym said: “The love on Facebook has been overwhelming, and that’s because it connects with our shoppers.

“We’re proud of a campaign that’s only cost £25.53 and is being touted as the winning marketing campaign this Christmas.”