In 2010, Ikea released a commercial in Austria, featuring a man in a rush to have sex with a woman. When the couple gets to the apartment, they start to disrobe but are interrupted by the arrival of the man’s same-sex partner. At the end of the commercial, the voice over says, “Florian has things to hide. Ikea has solutions.”
Ikea does several things in this commercial. The creators deliberately chose white actors, as this allows their sexual orientation(s) to be their most salient characteristics (Tsai, 5). Implicitly, the creators use the stereotype of the gay male as urban, financially secure, and with refined consumer tastes (Tsai, 5) to encourage the purchase of their furniture. The ad is targeted at politically liberal, young, urban Europeans, who recognize the stereotype. In contrast to Tsai’s critique of most bisexually – themed ads, it addresses bisexuality in men, rather than women (8).
At the start of the ad, there is no indicator to believe that Florian is anything but a straight white male. However, Florian is depicted as “hedonistic and adventurous,” precisely as Tsai argues bisexuals are portrayed (8). Florian is in a rush to have sex with the woman, in the middle of the day – a stark indication of his love of pleasure. In support of his adventurousness, Florian is not only cheating on his boyfriend but also hiding the woman in the cupboards of the exact room the couple proceeds to dine in, as Florian calmly plays footsies with his partner. The ad suggests that Florian wants to hide his attraction to women, a heteronormative tendency. This makes a very clear statement: being gay is not something to hide.
Wan-Hsiu Sunny Tsai. “Assimilating the Queers: Representations of Lesbians, Gay Men, Bisexual, and Transgender People in Mainstream Advertising.” Advertising & Society Review 11, no. 1 (2010) http://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed July 31, 2012).