From Amazon's Hitler-esque app icon to Sony's upside-down PS5, we've seen plenty of brand blunders over the last few months. But one of the most embarrassing examples still belongs to Ikea, who served up a pretty huge advertising gaff last year (and on a giant billboard on the front of a flagship store, no less). Suffice to say, it didn't enter our top billboard advertising list.
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
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. We have a sneaking feeling it's the former.
Either way, it provided the brand with some great publicity and a fun social media moment. But we're sure translation teams would do well to take note, just in case. For another clanger, check out Sony's mispositioned PS5.