Ikea ‘Regrets’ Airbrushing Women Out of Its Saudi Catalog

Now you see her, now you don't

Click your way through Ikea's regular catalog and its Saudi catalog, and you will notice something odd: They removed all the women (though not the young girls) from the latter. In some cases it's clear they were Photoshopped out; in other instances they simply have replacement pictures. For example, there's one image of four women sitting at a dining table where clearly someone said "Screw it" and just reshot the table. The changes have caused a bit of a stir with government officials in Sweden, as they seem to suggest Ikea doesn't have much of a commitment to women's rights. Ikea apologized, saying, "We should have reacted and realized that excluding women from the Saudi Arabian version of the catalog is in conflict with the Ikea Group values." Though Saudi Arabia is a country where women are expected to be covered in public and are not allowed to drive, they do not prohibit depictions of women in advertising, so it's not entirely clear why Ikea removed them from the catalog in the first place. It's the second time in a few weeks that Ikea has had to apologize for unfortunate deletions. Two weeks ago it removed a photo of four people in balaclavas from its Russian corporate website, just in case someone thought they supported Russian band Pussy Riot, who just received a scorching sentence for protesting Putin while wearing balaclavas. But this faux pas has captured much more Internet time. Check out this hilarious Tumblr, where images of women have been replaced with Ikea furniture.

@rebeccacullers Rebecca Cullers is a contributor to Adweek.
Publish date: October 2, 2012 https://stage.adweek.com/creativity/ikea-regrets-airbrushing-women-out-its-saudi-catalog-144140/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT