Monday, October 1, 2012

Ikea apologizes for editing women out of its Saudi catalogue

Via Washington Post
The Washington Post reports that Ikea has put itself in an awkward PR situation by digitally deleting images of women from the Saudi Arabia version of its catalogue.

Ikea’s Saudi catalogue, which is also available online, looks the same as other editions of the publication, except for the absence of women. 
One picture shows a family apparently getting ready for bed, with a young boy brushing his teeth in the bathroom. However, a pajama-clad woman standing next to the boy is missing from the Saudi version. 
Another picture of a five women dining has been removed altogether in the Saudi edition.
Back home in Sweden this was such a big deal that the country's Equality Minister, Nyamko Sabuni, commented on it, telling AP, “For Ikea to remove an important part of Sweden’s image and an important part of its values in a country that more than any other needs to know about about Ikea’s principles and values — that’s completely wrong.”

Ikea has since apologized in a statement, saying "We should have reacted and realized that excluding women from the Saudi Arabian version of the catalogue is in conflict with the IKEA Group values." The group responsible for the catalogue added, "We are now reviewing our routines to safeguard a correct content presentation from a values point-of-view in the different versions of the IKEA Catalogue worldwide."

AP ads:
Women appear only infrequently in Saudi-run advertising, mostly on Saudi-owned TV channels that show women in long dresses, scarves covering their hair and long sleeves. In imported magazines, censors black out many parts of a woman's body including arms, legs and chest.
International marketers are often challenged with trying to fit in to regional values while still maintaining global brand values. It wasn't the first time someone called out a big brand for caving to local sensitivities, and it won't be the last. But I think Ikea at least did the right thing by apologizing and promising to make good.

If you want to see more, Copyranter has a good collection of "before and after" images.

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