IKEA, a Swedish furniture store giant that has consistently sent an inclusive message by portraying same-sex couples in its adverts, has been accused by an Italian newspaper of “Swedish imperialism” with a new ad that shows two men holding hands alongside the message “We Are Open to All Families.”
The advert has appeared on billboards throughout Italy to a largely muted response from the general public. The ad goes on to say that IKEA is “open to all families…with us you will feel at home. What we want to do is make life easier for everyone, every family, every couple, whoever they are.”
However, Italian newspaper Il Giornale, which is owned by prime minister Silvio Berlusconi who recently said that same-sex couples would never get adoption or marriage rights while he was in power, slammed the ad and IKEA’s inclusive message, accusing it of a shock tactic marketing ploy displaying foreign values simply for the sake of being provocative.
“What’s behind all this? It’s not awareness of gay rights for gay couples. It’s just a brazen marketing strategy… One has to ask what is the point of such a campaign by IKEA in Catania – it’s obvious that they are just trying to get themselves talked about,” said the paper as reported by the British press.
However, LGBT rights commentators in Italy have reacted positively to the move.
From Pink News (where you can also see a picture of the advert):
But the Queer Italy blog welcomed the ad, saying: “Nothing can be more indigestible for our bigots and homophobes who cannot bear to read the word family with the words same sex.
“We like this advert and we welcome it – maybe some others will follow on from this campaign and look forward progressively and modernly, instead of backwards to the Middle Ages.”
Reports also suggest the ad, which is being used to promote a new store in Catania, a traditionally Catholic area on the island of Sicily, has not dissuaded the regional council from accepting the new store which is estimated to have created more than 300 new jobs and saw in excess of 20,000 visitors on its first day.
IKEA infamously had to withdraw a gay-inclusive ad in 1994 after it received bomb threats. An ad featuring a mixed-race gay couple and their daughter was shown widely throughout Europe in 2007 to little negative comment but quite some praise.