CLOSE-UP: CLIENT OF THE WEEK - Ikea has a dig at Englishness. Jade Garrett talks to Matti Naar, the Swedish furniture group’s head of marketing

Once again, Ikea, the Swedish furniture retailer, is courting controversy by insulting the English before asking us to buy its furniture (Campaign, 18 September).

Once again, Ikea, the Swedish furniture retailer, is courting

controversy by insulting the English before asking us to buy its

furniture (Campaign, 18 September).



Their latest ads, from St Luke’s, demand that we ’Stop being so

English’, then poke fun at some of the old-fashioned attitudes that the

English are famed for and the style of furniture we prefer. Our love of

classical literature, our dislike of nudity, our inability to complain

and our apologetic nature are some of the traits attacked.



Matti Naar, Ikea’s marketing manager, is preparing himself for the

backlash this time. ’There will be some people who will be very offended

by the ads - we know that but we’re happy for them to run.’ Naar insists

that the ads aren’t disrespectful but says it will be up to the

individual to interpret them in their own way.



Naar didn’t feel so confident when an Ikea ad was pulled earlier this

year. It attracted nearly 400 complaints to the ITC for suggesting that

a dull office could be re-vamped by making a junior employee

redundant.



’I’m not too proud of that ad,’ he confesses, ’and I think we have to

admit that we made some mistakes.’



Ikea is also staging a nationwide competition for customers as part of

the ongoing campaign. The public are being encouraged to nominate the

most class-obsessed person they know and Ikea will be offering a

peerage, worth pounds 6,000, as first prize. There will also be a

discussion in October on Talk Radio when Quentin Crisp will lead a

debate on Englishness.



Naar is hoping that the latest work, while admittedly controversial,

will not be seen as a challenge to consumers but will leave them with

something to reflect on.



So what does the man behind the ’Stop being so English’ campaign think

of his new home? ’I love the English,’ he says. ’There have been big

changes in English society over recent years with the introduction of

new cuisine, restaurants and fashion. The English are very forward

thinking and that’s what this campaign is about.’ Let’s hope the English

can be as generous about him after they’ve seen the ads.



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