No swear bear: Paddington M&S Christmas ad in the clear

The ad caused an uproar on social media
The ad caused an uproar on social media
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A social media furore around the suggestion that the Marks & Spencer Christmas ad features a villain swearing at Paddington bear has been definitively resolved.

The ad does not include a single swear word, the UK's advertising watchdog has determined.

The retailer's big-budget festive campaign features Britain's favourite bear inadvertently saving Christmas for his neighbours, mistaking a bearded burglar in red for Santa and assisting him in returning all of the stolen presents back to where they belong.

But the ad caused an uproar after viewers believed they heard the burglar making the final parting comment: "F*** you, little bear."

M&S was forced to defend the ad, with a spokesman saying it was "clear" that the words are "thank you, little bear".

A spokesman for the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which received a total of three complaints about the ad, said: "Whilst we appreciated that some viewers may have misinterpreted this, the ad did not contain a swear word and therefore did not break the rules."

He added: "There were no grounds for an investigation."

The retail giant partnered with StudioCanal to bring to life this year's offering ahead of the release of the latest film Paddington 2.

Created by Grey London, the ad features Ben Whishaw as the voice of Paddington, and also sees a cameo appearance by veteran newsreader Angela Rippon.

Grey London chief executive Leo Rayman said: "Who would think we would allow a small, loveable little bear to be sworn at? The campaign is a celebration of family generosity and Christmas spirit. Of course we wouldn't put a swear word in a Christmas TV ad.

"It's funny how some people react to Christmas advertising."