IKEA is a master of advertising. Last year it even delivered a Christmas advert that managed to be touching without the sap. So we're surprised to report that the Swedish brand has served up a pretty huge advertising gaff – and on a giant billboard on the front of a flagship store, no less. It won't be entering our top billboard advertising list, that's for sure.
Found by a Twitter user in Bahrain, the mistake concerns a translation on an advert for an IKEA bed (see the tweet below). The ad reads 'Create your perfect night’s sleep' in English, followed by (what should be) the Arabic translation. But, it seems it was the team translator who was feeling a bit bleary eyed, as the Arabic script actually says 'Same text, but in Arabic'. Oops.
Ikeaaaaa what you doing??? P.S the Arabic copy says, "Same text but in Arabic". pic.twitter.com/B6aiOpQdK0August 20, 2020
Instead of redesigning the entire billboard immediately, IKEA riffed on the theme with a witty addition (see below), showing the confidence the brand has to respond in real time.
They changed it! It now reads, “This is what happens when you don’t get good sleep. Enjoy your perfect sleep” @IKEABH pic.twitter.com/DtuQvJpzk8August 20, 2020
Some Twitter users doubted the sincerity of the mistake, putting it down to a publicity stunt...
Viral Marketing. It was done on purpose to make people talk about it. Swedish humor. Non unusual in IKEA. Just look at the translated Swedish name of the stuff...😉August 20, 2020
But, it isn't like it's the first time this sort of mistake has happened, as others pointed out.
Same in English. pic.twitter.com/5grct2eBoFSeptember 30, 2016
The final result does fit with IKEA's usual brand of personality-filled dry humour (much like when it ripped into Apple) but it's hard to tell if that's down to some quick on-brand thinking from the team correcting the mistake, or if it was purposeful in the first place.
Either way, it's provided the brand with some great publicity and a fun social media moment. But we're sure translation teams would like to take note, just in case.