The Paradox of Stereotyping - IKEA, Audi and China’s “Leftover Women Club”

IKEA was recently forced to pull Chinese commercial after netizens point out how blatantly sexist it was towards single women:

IKEA is not the first brand to get it wrong. AUDI did the same not so long ago, comparing women to used cars : 

If we go by the cultural navigator methodology, there are many stereotyping challenges a brand would usually face right from the concept, on the drawing board to the eventual launch...They either fail to understand the new market and its cultural elements. Or, they understand it a little too much than needed!

Brands often bring their whole selves to their product including their political, cultural and economic points of view. 

The Ikea and Audi ads are expressing the presumptuous sentiment where single women past a marriageable age are often considered "leftover". However, the general sentiment of that cohort All the Single Ladiesno longer view marriage as a path to security as they increasingly become self-reliant and career-oriented in China. These ads failed to see the whole point of view and it shows!

Lesson: Read Between the Lines next time!

More on stereotyping and countering it in my next posts as I give examples from my own professional engagement while on consulting projects with leading brands who also happen to be my most esteemed clients. The impact the right messaging strategy can achieve in its wake is phenomenal!

- Amit Anand