IKEA Has A Strange Series Of Transgender Ads

IKEA is under fire from the Thai Transgender Alliance over a recent television commercial that the group claims is “negative,” “stereotypical,” and a “gross violation of human rights.”

The commercial (below) opens with a man and his girlfriend walking through an IKEA. As soon as the woman sees pillows on sale, she gets so excited that her voice drops about two octaves, much to the horror of her boyfriend. The spot is titled Luem Aeb, which translates to “Forget to Keep Hidden” or “Forget to Deceive.” The final scene show the woman clearly born as a man — carrying a heavy flatbox by herself as her boyfriend runs away, terrified, in the opposite direction.

The transgender alliance complains that “the transgender content of the advertisement is negative and stereotypical in nature, perpetuating misunderstanding transgenderism as human sexuality for ‘deceitful and deviant lifestyle.'”

While IKEA — based Sweden, known for its progressive policies towards the LGBT communitytold Reuters that it is currently “drafting a response,” some minor digging showed that this isn’t IKEA’s first ad placing transgenders in a comedic light.

Here’s a French IKEA commercial from 2006 in which a woman, primping for a night out, accidentally walks into a low-level table. The joke? She was born a man and getting hit in crotch hurts!

Of course, some of IKEA’s trans-focused spots feature positive portrayals of the community rather than making them the butt of a joke.

GLAAD praised this 2010 spot, by SCPF, in which a woman wakes up post-surgery at a hospital. (Watch below.) As the commercial continues, it becomes clear that she has just transitioned from male-to-female. (She’s shown smiling as she burns her old driver’s licence that reads Jose Felix Torres.) She walks into an IKEA as the tagline “Redecorate your life” appears on the screen.

According to GLAAD, “This is a remarkably nonjudgemental, rather uplifting portrayal of a person who has changed sexes.”

In spite of recent controversies, IKEA previously made a point of being gay friendly.

In fact, in 1994, IKEA was the first major company to air an ad featuring a homosexual couple. The spot, created by Deutsch NY, might have provoked a bomb threat, but the company continued to reach out to an LGBT audience.

Let us know what you think about the recent controversy below.

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