Ikea crisis over names rather than recall

An interesting public relations “crisis” story affecting Swedish furniture store, Ikea in respect of its product names offending the Danes

I’ve never quite understood why everything from a table to a doormat needs a name rather than a reference code, when Ikea has not really developed many as a recognisable brand.  So, a bit of a pointless faux pas enabling your Danish neighbours to indulge in a bit of Scandinavian muck-making over a possible national bias in the match of product to name.

I doubt this has caused much frantic crisis management at Ikea though as the media, at least in the UK and Australia, have reported the story in a light-hearted fashion.  Indeed, a quick Google news search shows far more reports of the Danish doormat drama than reported a more serious crisis, that of a product recall for a child’s highchair on safety grounds. 

I think this highlights the power of story-telling in a crisis scenario.  It is much easier to imagine people telling each other about the crazy catalogue naming story than reporting the recall of 930 “Gulliver” highchairs sold in 17 stores across the UK so far this year – plus several other European countries.

Of course, the recall affects relatively few people, and importantly, when children are involved, there have been no reports of injury.  So the PR approach follows the classic “play it straight” advice for issuing such information.  Allowing the media to have a lot more fun with allegations of “Swedish imperialism“.

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Heather Yaxley PhD

Dr. Heather Yaxley is passionate about sustainable careers, reflective practice and professional development. I am a rhizomatic educator, practitioner, consultant, academic and scholar. As a qualified academic, I teach the CIPR professional qualifications with PR Academy and have experience teaching at various Universities. I run the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) and my own strategic consultancy. I was awarded by PhD researching Career Strategies in Public Relations by Bournemouth University in 2017. I'm a published author, with books, chapters and academic papers to my name.