IKEA International, A Woman or Nearly


This ad, winner of a Publicists' Prize at the Festival du Film Publicitaire de Méribel 2002 (France), features a woman putting on her makeup and gyrating to music as she gets ready for a night on the town.

She's finishes, walks out of her bathroom into the living room and, in the dark, hits a table right between the legs with a hyper-masculine yelp (dubbed) -- grabbing "her" crotch, now revealed as a man's (including the way it's held in pain).

The title of the ad says it all, which is that this commercial treads on much-paved ground with the not-so-innovative gender-switch "surprise." IKEA carried a far more creative effort in Spain in 1999, featuring a male-to-female transsexual after a hospital stay for the operation.

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User Comments
First, to echo what RiCardo has pointed out, it is deeply problematic to have cis-gendered actors/actresses portraying trans people in the media and to pass this off as "inclusion" of trans people (when there are almost no trans actors in mainstream media). Even if that is not the case in this ad (which I still suspect it is), we have a deeper problem: TRANS GIRLS GETTING INJURED IS NOT A PUNCHLINE. It feels like the punchline of this ad is to say "Haha, you thought this was a girl, but she's really a man! Aren't we clever!" No, no you're not. :(

Jaclyn Cady
As a trans girl, I find this ad incredibly offensive because the punchline amounts to "See, she's still really a guy and 'he' got hurt. Ha ha!" I am extremely disappointed in GLAAD for rating this advertisement positively.

I am sorry, but I can't stand to see ads where they have transgendered characters played by non transgendered actors. Would you have a white man play a black man...NO! SO why have a woman play a male to female transexual?

I assume that the character is played by a transgender person, who happens to be quite beautiful -- I wonder who she is. The set-up is flawless and the conclusion is precious. I enjoyed it immensely.

I was looking at your site and watched an ad that was marked negative. I wasn’t sure why it was negative. It may be an old gag, but I didn’t see it as negative. More neutral in my humble opinion. I’m not sure the ad is out to make drag queens as evil or bad… I smiled… anyway, just my two cents.

Margaret McGregor
OK maybe I'm missing something, for I didn't find this ad offensive at all, but rather quite funny. I mean who hasn't banged their knee or privates aganst a table edge? OK, so the joke is old, but come on people lighten up, it's just an ad!

Andrea James
This didn’t seem so bad to me.

This guy could of been a transgendered woman or a transvestite, but to me he definitly looked like a guy in make-up. I don't think that this actor is a woman. It seems to me that the commercial intends to mislead the viewer into believing that this attractive person applying make-up is a woman. We wonder what the commerial is advertising, so we pay attention to find out. Once the "connection" is made to furniture, we see other furnishings - IKEA. There is no offense to be taken: the character is not ridiculed, laughed at, or minimized in any way. Whether she is a transexual or transvestite, the character is treated neutrally.