Swedish furniture giant Ikea has pulled one of its Chinese TV commercials following accusations that the advert was "sexist" and portrayed negative stereotypes about single women.
The 30-second ad showed a mother rudely telling her single daughter, "Don't call me your mom if you cannot bring back a boyfriend" after which the girl appears with a man who claims to be her boyfriend.
That makes the girl's parents happy and their attitude towards her also changes. They immediately tidy up the room and decorate it with Ikea products. The tag line that appears on screen reads: "Celebrate everyday easily".
Ikea's move to pull the advert came in response to a backlash from internet users who described the clip as "sexist" and "twisted".
The multinational company released a statement on Tuesday (24 October), saying: "IKEA encourages people to live different lifestyles, and this belief is reflected in our product design and home furnishing solutions.
"Gender equality is a fundamental part of the IKEA culture and values, which we share with everybody."
Chinese internet users had taken to Weibo — China's equivalent of Twitter — to voice their anger as soon as the ad went on air. Many accused the furniture giant of supporting the orthodox idea of getting single women married as soon as possible. They alleged that Ikea supports the conservative idea of "leftover women"– a cultural view that single women over the age of 27 have less value or importance.
"I just want to ask IKEA, would they dare to show such an ad in their home country, Sweden?" a Weibo user posted.
Another said: "Whether having a romantic partner or not is ones own business and does not need any interference from others, let alone an advertisement."
This is not the first time an advertisement has courted controversy in China. In July, German car manufacturer Audi came under fire for an advert that compares buying a vehicle to finding a wife.
The ad showed a woman having her mouth and face inspected carefully by her mother-in-law on her wedding day. At the end of the ad, a red Audi drives along a road as a male voice-over says, "An important decision must be made carefully".
The commercial was heavily criticised, with many calling it a "disgusting" example of sexism, and others calling for a boycott of the company.