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Where have all the women gone?

IKEA’s reputation for producing progressive content has taken a serious hit

Swedish flatpack-furniture mega-producer IKEA has, rightly, received plenty of praise for its innovative approach to content marketing and willingness to embrace clever initiatives that demonstrate a commendable desire to stay ahead of the game.

However, that forward-thinking, progressive reputation has taken a serious hit of late – particularly in its home country – with the revelation that images of women have been airbrushed out of the Saudi edition of the IKEA catalogue.

Spot the difference…

Swedes, who pride themselves on their egalitarian approach and believe equality to be sacrosanct, have responded with outrage – taking to social media to express their anger. As a result, an IKEA spokeswoman has said the company will be ‘holding a dialogue’ with their Saudi franchise holder, pointing out that ‘when entering a new market, the company always takes into account the ability to balance local culture and legislation with its own values’.

The whole incident is more proof that poor decision making where content is concerned can do serious damage to a brand’s reputation. It is unlikely to hurt IKEA in the long term, but there is no doubt that its domestic customers have put it on notice.


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