IKEA’s Russian branch has got itself in hot water over a Facebook ad that some users saw as comparing women to dogs and purveying sexist stereotypes. The company deleted the post and apologized after the outcry.
The controversial post featured a Jack Russell terrier dog sitting at a table in in front of a serving of pancakes. “What to do if you’ve scratched his car or chewed on his slippers: Cook pancakes with jam; put on the table his favorite [IKEA brand] rag; greet him with a faint smile; avoid saying ‘honey, we need to talk,’” the caption for the post read.
Вокруг российского филиала IKEA разгорелся скандал из-за поста в Фейсбуке: в нём компания дала рекомендации на случай, «если вы случайно поцарапали его машину или погрызли тапочки». Теперь её обвиняют в сексизме, извинения не помогли https://t.co/JwqhoRuX4Vpic.twitter.com/2yHhkSmdeH
— TJ (@tjournal) October 27, 2018
The text did not imply who the dog was meant to depict or by any means hint at the gender of who the “instruction” was written for. Some users, however, took offence, jumping to the conclusion that the post addressed females and the terrier represented women. IKEA was then bombarded with accusations of “cavemen sexism.”
“Do you realize you’ve just compared to a dog at least 50 percent (and likely even more) of your target audience? It’s obvious you’re sexists, yet really dumb ones. I wish you huge losses,” one angry user wrote.
“It’s kind of a woman is a pet, just like a dog? You thought it out well, didn’t’ you?” another one wondered.
Some commentators chose to defend IKEA, pointing out that it was unclear who the dog was representing exactly – since it might actually have been the man receiving the pancake treatment. Others argued that it was wrong to assume the dog’s gender at all, since the whole story might have been actually all about dogs.
Following the outcry, the company said that the whole post was “humorous” and was not meant to offend anyone. The post has been on the IKEA Russia’s page for about a week, yet the company eventually gave in to the online storm and took it down, issuing an apology.
“A recent post on our social media was deemed by some subscribers to be controversial. We’ve studied all your comments and decided to delete it. We extend our apologies to all the users, who deemed the post inappropriate,” the apology reads.
IKEA’s words of regret, however, have only stirred up the controversy further. Some users were apparently offended again, claiming that the company did not apologize hard enough. Some, however, argued that it was the dogs who actually deserved an apology over the whole affair.
Others voiced discontent over IKEA’s decision to cave in to the backlash and delete the post.
“Today you apologize for a post about dogs, and tomorrow you’ll apologize for selling a bed not large enough to accommodate a ‘body-positive’ person, who deems it to be an insult,” a user warned.
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