While woodland humanoids prone to wearing pointy red caps have made significant inroads this year with acceptance into the Royal Horticulture Society’s Chelsea Flower Show, leave it to IKEA to reverse any progress that the British garden gnome population has made after decades of indignation.
Earlier this spring, the Swedish mega-retailer released “Time For Change,” a one-minute advert that depicts gratuitous scenes of garden gnome carnage while broadcasting a rather blatant anti-gnome agenda that can be translated as: “Garden gnomes are sooo déclassé. Please, do yourself a favor and eradicate them to make way for the IKEA's summer 2013 collection of lawn furniture.”
In the ad — I’ve embedded it below — a horde of garden gnomes don’t sit well with the ostracism and so, as any scorned ceramic figurine in its right mind would do, they begin attacking the suburbanite couple who are attempting to phase them out. A full-on melee ensues with, of course, the IKEA-loving, gnome-slaughtering couple emerging triumphant (or do they?)
The bizarre, gnomeacide-celebrating ad — it’s certainly not the most bizarre that IKEA has produced — left me sympathizing with the malevolent garden gnomes. I mean really, that was some truly hideous outdoor furniture they were being ousted for. To be clear, IKEA does not sell garden gnomes.
While the ad is a touch nightmarish, particularly for those who find garden gnomes inherently creepy or were traumatized at a young age by films like "Child's Play" or "Puppetmaster," it appears that some gnome-loving Britons are really disturbed by it and have contacted the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to voice their complaints.
BBC News reports that the ASA has received 50 complaints regarding the “frightening,” “offensive,” and “violent” IKEA ad, which, apparently, encourages “emulation and anti-social behaviour.”
The ASA is taking the complaints seriously. However, the authority has no immediate plans to pull the advertisement.
The ASA explains in a statement: "While we appreciated that the ad would not be to everyone's taste, we thought it was clearly fanciful and light-hearted. We also didn't share the view that it would encourage or condone violence or anti-social behaviour and was unlikely to upset children."
IKEA itself has also spoken out about the complaints, noting that the advertisement was meant to be a “light-hearted” depiction of an ordinary family attempting to bid adieu to “the ultimate embodiment of everything that's tired and dreary about British gardens — the garden gnome.”
Ouch. Digging that hole deeper, I see.
Standup comedian/IKEA UK marketing manager Peter Wright goes on to explain that “no gnomes were harmed in the making of the advert, thanks to the brave stunt doubles and some clever post production.”
Meanwhile over at the Daily Mail, garden historian Twigs Way takes a pro-gnome stance: "Gnomes have always played a large and happy part in populating our green spaces. People like to make out that they’re naff and tacky, but they are a lucky charm, which are now loved worldwide," she says. "The advert was bound to cause uproar. After all, we are a nation of gnome lovers. If I were Ikea I’d be worried. Beware the revenge of the little folk."