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The downside of humor: IKEA Thailand apologizes for ad poking fun of transgender people February 3, 2013

Posted by rmshepard in Uncategorized.
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IKEA Thailand released an apology following complaints about an ad poking fun of transgender people. The ad depicted a man and his girlfriend shopping at an IKEA store. The girlfriend’s voice drops when spotting a sale, and her partner runs away at the revelation that she is probably a man. A Thai group called the ad a “gross violation of human rights” that could spark violence against transgender people. In the corporation’s apology, IKEA Thailand’s marketing manager Gannrapee Chatchaidamrong said:

“We run many “spoof advertisements” where the friendly humor is intended to be an essential component. This was the intention in our campaign, where we also featured a number of different people from a spectrum of Thai society “forgetting themselves” when they are so surprised at the value of the prices in our sale.”

To see the ad yourself, watch the following video:

Discussion Questions:

1.  Why is humor an effective strategy in marketing?

2.  What are the risks of humor?

3.  Did IKEA Thailand cross a line with the ad depicting a transgender girlfriend?

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