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Dublin: 1 °C Tuesday 25 February, 2020

Dealz has been taken to task for its 'sexualised' Christmas toy campaign

The discount retailer ran its ‘Elf Behaving Badly’ online ads on the basis that Irish people ‘like to laugh’.

Image: Sam Boal/

DISCOUNT RETAILER DEALZ fell foul of advertising standards when it ran a series of Facebook posts that sexualised children’s toys.

The chain’s ‘Elf Behaving Badly’ Christmas campaign was the subject of an investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI).

According to a report compiled by the ad industry watchdog, Dealz Ireland published a series of pictures on its Facebook page that drew complaints from one punter who “considered the imagery used to be sexualising children’s toys which he found degrading in content”.

One image featured a toy elf “holding a tea bag between its legs over the face of a female doll lying on the ground”. Another showed a similar toy “holding a spherical shaped object and a Darth Vader toy holding a lightsabre”.


In response to the complaint, Dealz said it believed its Irish customers “liked to laugh” and that it sought to “bring moments of fun and laughter” to them.

The retailer said it was never the intention of the ‘Elf Behaving Badly’ campaign to cause offence, which it said was “based on humour, something that Irish people were famously known for”.

Dealz said the advertising was based on double entrendres that it expected would “go over the heads of those who did not understand them and make those that (understood them) laugh out loud”.

The company also challenged whether the ad campaign was targeted at children since many social media websites have “policies in place that prevented under-13s from creating accounts “, and added that it has “never sought to encourage anyone other than adults to follow their posts”.

In its decision to uphold the complaint, the ASAI said the two offending images “were obvious references to sexual acts”.

While the industry-funded watchdog considered the advertisers’ comments that Facebook and other social networks require users to be aged 13 and over, it ruled that sexualising children’s toys was not compliant with advertising rules.

As a result, Dealz has been ordered not to run the same campaign again.

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Written by Conor McMahon and posted on

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