This groundbreaking, famous spot for Swedish furniture maker IKEA made news around the world, though it was rarely seen. It features a male couple shopping for a dining room table together. The two middle-aged guys, who finish each other's sentences, say "a leaf means commitment." At the end, one says, "We've got another leaf waiting for when we REALLY start getting along" -- perhaps implying having children.
The ad was part of a larger campaign that dealt with non-traditional families and was the first time an advertiser dealt with a gay relationship frankly in the US. (It was not the first, however. One year earlier, a remarkable Danish commercial for Politiken newspaper was the first to depict a male couple together, with a passionate kiss.)
Although IKEA accepted the ad, the retailer still had some reservations, perhaps justifiably so. The spot ran only ONCE in New York City and Washington, D.C. after 9:30 in deference to children, before it was pulled following bomb threats to stores.
Many wrongly assumed the commercial was meant to target gay buyers, but the campaign was about "non-traditional" families, including a mixed race couple and a single mom with an adopted child.
The commercial's director told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. that it was not important to be the first company to show a gay couple together and "Actually I was surprised when we first started looking at this" that no one had done it before.
Late-night showings remain somewhat familiar terrain for advertisers with gay themes, including a 2000 ad for a Brazilian portal web site and a British commercial from the now-defunct Rubberstuffers organization.
The IKEA ad disappeared only a few weeks after it began when the retailer got a bomb threat at a store from conservatives, along with calls for a boycott.
Nonetheless, the commercial was well-liked by the gay community. The gay stereotype of being fashion-oriented and tastemaker was leveraged in the ads, giving a sort of "Gay Housekeeping Seal of Approval" on IKEA. One of the two actors also is openly gay, though he said that was not known when he was cast for the part.
IKEA has revisited gay and transgender themes a number of times in its commercials over the years.