As one of the biggest, most critically acclaimed and most decorated films of 2013, 12 Years a Slave was always going to be a big DVD release, but someone working for the supermarket chain Sainsbury’s perhaps got a little bit too enthused, dressing up a mannequin in clothes similar to those worn by Chiwitel Ejiofor and his co-stars in the hard-hitting slave drama.

12 Years a SlaveChiwitel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender in '12 Years a Slave'

It didn’t take long for a shopper to see the hugely distasteful promotional stand, take a snapshot on their phone and upload it to Twitter for the world to see. The mannequin – which appeared at a branch in Oxford – was clad with a ripped, loose fitting beige shirt and three quarter-length trousers. The worst part – a twig protruding from the shirt. 

A spokesperson for Sainsbury's said: “We can only apologise.  It’s been taken down from the Heyford Hill store and clearly should never have gone up in the first place." A spokesperson later confirmed that the outfit had never been on sale in the store as part of any promotion associated with the film. 

More: Read our review of '12 Years a Slave'

Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave tells the harrowing true story of Solomon Northrup, based on his book of the same name. Born a free man, Northrup is kidnapped and sold into slavery in New Orleans to a man named William Ford – played by Benedict Cumberbatch. But the events that transpire see Northrup move on to Edwin Epps, who – in comparison to the relatively benevolent Ford – is an unforgiving, unrelenting, evil plantation owner. 

The film won a litany of awards, including Best Director for Steve McQueen at the Oscars and Best Supporting Actress for Lupita Nyong’o, whose career has skyrocketed since her startling performance as Patsey.