In this spot, a male-female couple are shopping when the woman gets excited about a sale on pillows and her voice becomes deep like a man. (She is already taller than he is.)
Her boyfriend gets scared at this, but plays along. Then at the end, when she picks up several heavy boxes, he then runs the other way.
If there was any doubt about the intent of the commercial, its name "Luem Aeb" ("Forget to Keep Hidden") reveals all. The 20-second commercial appeared on YouTube and on Bangkok trains in December 2012 and January 2013.
The ThaiTGA (Thai Transgender Alliance) issued a statement saying "The transgender content of the advertisement is negative and stereotypical in nature, perpetuating misunderstanding transgenderism as human sexuality for 'deceitful and deviant lifestyle.' "
IKEA Thailand marketing manager Gannrapee Chatchaidamrong told Gay Star News, "I would like to apologize for the unintended offense may caused and we will be more careful in the future. 'We run many 'spoof advertisements' where the friendly humor is intended to be an essential component. This was the intention in our campaign, where we also featured a number of different people from a spectrum of Thai society 'forgetting themselves' when they are so surprised at the value of the prices in our sale." Chatchaidamrong added, "We welcome all people to the IKEA stores, independent of religion, political view, ethnic background or sexual preference etc."
The ad is a surprise, both for a company whose ads globally are usually LGBT-positive and in a country where male-to-female transgenders (often called "ladyboys"), are widely accepted and are commonplace in fashion, beauty and entertainment, but aren't actually recognized as women.