A controversial Ikea ad is angering transsexuals in Thailand, with advocates from at least one organization calling its contents “negative,” “stereotypical” and “a gross violation of human rights.” The spot features a man and his girlfriend furniture shipping. When the woman sees that pillows are on sale, she gets so excited that she experiences a curious change in vocal tone. It is this portion of the ad — and what follows — that has led the Thai Transgender Alliance to call Ikea out for a purported human rights infraction.
In the short video, the woman’s voice changes from a feminine to a masculine tone. After this vocal evolution as well as some heavy box lifting, her boyfriend, who is clearly startled by these developments, runs away (the idea here is that he apparently realizes she isn’t the woman he assumed her to be). The controversial ad is 20 seconds in length and was shown on Bangkok trains in December and January; it was also uploaded to YouTube. The clip is entitled, “Luem Aeb,” which means, “Forget to Keep Hidden.”
Watch it, below:
The Thai Transgender Alliance is now demanding an official response from Ikea, penning a complaint that was apparently delivered to the company on Jan. 9. The Los Angeles Times has more about the contents of the letter in question:
In an open letter to Ikea, the Thai Transgender Alliance lambasted the ad as “a parody of a weirdo” that “perpetuates a misunderstanding of transgenderism as a ‘deceitful and deviant lifestyle.’ ” The video is “negative and stereogypical in nature,” according to the group…
“Media representation … should evolve and become as diverse as the community those images strive to reflect,” the group wrote. Otherwise, it warned, it could perpetuate attitudes toward the transgender population that “lead to violence and various forms of abuses such as sexual harassment.”
According to an official with Ikea’s Thailand arm, the company is currently drafting a response letter to address the organization’s concerns.