Furniture giant IKEA apologizes after Hindu protest over campaign video trivializing yoga

Multinational home furnishings retailer IKEA has apologized after Hindus protested over its recently launched Australia campaign video “IKEA product pose Yoga”, deploring that it trivialized yoga.

Cecilia Stenberg, a spokeswoman for the Ingka Group Press Office, in emails to distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded the protest, wrote:…We are truly sorry and apologize if this commercial from IKEA Retail Australia has been perceived as offensive in any way. We assure you that it was not intentional…the video is unpromoted on social media and IKEA Retail Australia will not re-activate.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, thanked IKEA for understanding the concerns of Hindu community, which thought this video unnecessarily and unreasonably trivialized the ancient and serious discipline of yoga, which was highly inappropriate.

Rajan Zed, however, urged Ingka Group CEO Jesper Brodin and Inter IKEA Group CEO Torbjörn Lööf to completely withdraw the objectionable video from all outlets and be serious about the IKEA vision “to create a better everyday life for the many people” and claim of striving “to be a force for positive change in society”.

Zed suggested that companies like IKEA should send their senior executives for training in religious and cultural sensitivity so that they had an understanding of the feelings of customers and communities when introducing new products or launching advertising campaigns.

Comparing a yoga-asana with a Martini glass for mercantile greed was quite out-of-line; Rajan Zed had pointed out.

Zed had said that inappropriate usage of Hindu concepts or practices or traditions for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees. Home furnishing companies should not be in the business of religious appropriation and mocking serious spiritual practices.

Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken frivolously. Practices/concepts/traditions of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be ridiculed at; Rajan Zed had stated.

Yoga is considered union with God, one of the six systems of Hindu philosophy, and mean for transforming consciousness and purification of the Self and attaining liberation; Zed had noted.

This campaign video of IKEA Australia asked the viewer to “follow Eve as she takes you through product pose yoga by IKEA” where she displayed 15 yoga-asanas associating each with an IKEA product, like “Barbecue tongs”; with a background voice talking about “to quieten the internal fire we have awakened”; ending in Namaste with folded hands.

IKEA, currently headquartered in Delft (Netherlands) and founded in Sweden in 1943, claims to offer “well-designed, functional and affordable, high-quality home furnishing products made with care for people and the environment”. There are ten IKEA stores in Australia itself