IKEA Accused of “Swedish Imperialism” Over Italian Gay Advert

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.

Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to kimubert.


Duane B.
.5 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Ernie Miller
william Miller6 years ago

makes you scratch your head some days. People are people unless your heart is filled with hate and then they are people you dont like.

Betsy M.
Betsy M6 years ago

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Annmari Lundin
Annmari L6 years ago

IKEA doesn't care about anything but profits and are always looking at new markets to gain more profits for Ingvar Kamprad, on the backs of workers everywhere.
But if this ad provokes Berlusconi into having a heart attack, I'm all for it!

Katheleen Sauret
kathleen Sauret6 years ago

I am an American living in Sweden. IKEA is a wonderful company, as they care about the environment and their employees. The Swedes are open minded, so this goes without saying about gay couples. I guess Italy is uptight....hmmmm.

Robert Tedders
Robert T6 years ago

@Michael M.: AGREED!! *turns to Berlusconi* And whaddya think of that, signore Primo?! *roars with laughter in Silvio's face*

Claire Insley
Claire Insley6 years ago

I have never been to IKEA and probably never will now I live in NZ, but my husband bought me a dragon blanket from there, so they must have good stuff ;-) I like it when people have their beliefs and values challenged. It's good for you. People don't have to look at the adverts or shop at IKEA if they dislike it so much.

KayL NOFORWARDS6 years ago

Ditto to Catherine H's comment.

Jennifer W.
Jennifer W6 years ago

I'm at two minds with this. I love to see devoted gay couples- but putting up billboards in such an area could be counterproductive- just my opinion. And Michael M- if that 'girl' is 17 I'll eat my hat- more like 27 I'd say (not that it makes it any better).

Catherine H.
Catherine H6 years ago

I say kudos to IKEA for being so open minded and totally inclusive. Would love to see more of this in every industry. People are people!