IKEA is under fire over a controversial TV advertisement in China. The Swedish retail giant pulled the advert, which has been deemed sexist and an insult to single women. In the 30-second commercial, a Chinese mother says to her daughter over dinner, “If you cannot bring back a boyfriend, don’t call me Mum.” A romantic...

By Joe McDonough


Posted on October 27, 2017

IKEA is under fire over a controversial TV advertisement in China. The Swedish retail giant pulled the advert, which has been deemed sexist and an insult to single women.

In the 30-second commercial, a Chinese mother says to her daughter over dinner, “If you cannot bring back a boyfriend, don’t call me Mum.”

A romantic interest then appears at the door, which prompts the visibly ecstatic parents to hastily set the table with IKEA tableware. The scene ends with the tagline ‘celebrate everyday’s life’.

Outraged observers believe the ad promotes the traditional expectations in China for women to marry early, preferably in their early 20s.

Xinhua news agency reports single women in their late 20s or older are often under heavy pressure to get married, especially from parents. For those who don’t, the phrase ‘leftover women’ is sometimes applied.

In a statement, IKEA said it understood the concern over the commercial and apologised “for giving the wrong perception”.

“IKEA encourages people to live many different lifestyles,” the statement said, adding that “gender equality is a fundamental part of the IKEA culture and values.”

It is not the first time a well-known foreign brand has gotten into trouble because of a TV advert. Earlier this year, German car-maker Audi pulled a commercial that appeared to compare women to used cars.