Don’t apologise IKEA – it’s not your fault
Ikea deletes all women from Saudi catalogue but should the Swedish company really be bashed for operating with cultural sensitivity?
October 2, 2012 10:02 by Muhammad Aldalou
While expanding a business on a global scale could, on the plus side, allows you to pleasantly reap dividends, it can also quite often come with a few limitations. Adapting to your surroundings is important for any business brand and lack of compliance with the country’s regulations can get you, quite swiftly, banished.
In the case of IKEA’s recently published catalogue in Saudi Arabia, where the Swedish company was criticised for completely airbrushing all the women in the images, Sweden’s equality minister Nyamko Sabuni was quoted as having said that while it is a private company, it still continues to project an image of Sweden around the world. “For Ikea to remove an important part of Sweden’s image and an important part of its values in a country that more than any other needs to know about Ikea’s principles and values, that’s completely wrong,” she said.
Give them a break Sabuni. Kipp is all for equality but isn’t putting the responsibility of preserving the image of an entire nation on a furniture brand a little too much? Besides, should a global business of this size really be slammed for operating with a bit of cultural sensitivity?
Depicting women in advertising isn’t against the law in the Saudi Kingdom but it is relatively discouraged judging by how infrequently women tend to appear in advertising campaigns (Starbucks?).
The Swedish company however, still issued an apologetic statement, which in Kipp’s opinion is moot. Ikea simply realise that if they wish to continue operating and promoting their brand in the Gulf Kingdom, then they will have to remain in the good books.
“We should have reacted and realised that excluding women from the Saudi Arabian version of the catalogue is in conflict with the Ikea Group values,” they said.
Sure, having the woman missing from the picture below goes for a pretty incomplete family, but they were just playing by the rules weren’t they?