Garden gnome wars: A matter of elf and safety

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

It was meant to be a light-hearted attempt to sell garden furniture in the UK.

But advertisers working for the Swedish furniture giant Ikea clearly underestimated the sensitivities of British gnome lovers.

When their TV campaign showed a line up of the garden ornaments being systematically destroyed, they received dozens of angry complaints.

The advert shows a family replacing their old garden decorations with new products from Ikea.

Angered at plans to eradicate them from the garden, the gnomes launch a revenge attack.

But they are thwarted by the couple - who find increasingly violent ways to kill them off.

Some are shattered into thousands of pieces by a well-aimed jet from a power hose while others are gathered in a hammock and smashed against a garden fence.

One scene sees a heartbroken gnome standing over a fallen friend with a tear running down his cheek.

The ad finishes with the tagline: "Make more of your garden. Say no to gnomes."

However the company found themselves on the end of an unlikely backlash - after affronted viewers picked up the phone to criticise the "violent" attack.

Around 50 people rang the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to complain about the ad's 'frightening and unsuitable' content.

An ASA spokesman said they realised some people found the images distressing. However he said the ASA would not be taking further action. "We do not share the view that it would encourage violence, condone anti-social behaviour or upset children," he said.

Last night Dr Twigs Way, a garden gnome expert, said: "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. 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.'

Ikea's marketing manager Peter Wright said: "We believe that the advert takes a light-hearted approach.

"We can confirm that no gnomes were harmed in the making of the advert, thanks to clever CGI post-production and some brave stunt doubles."

- THE DAILY MAIL

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