The world’s largest furniture company had rolled out a campaign in Russia with the Latin slogan ‘suum cuique,’ which translates as “to each his own.”
Public outcry against the slogan was swift, and among those blasting the ads was Russian parliamentarian Vitaly Milonov.
“We must urge IKEA to do some thinking and give up on this slogan,” Milonov said.
The Swedish company quickly apologized, saying in a statement that it “admits the mistake” and treats history with “great respect.”
While it originally comes from the works of Roman philosophers, its German equivalent – “Jedem das Seine” – was inscribed on the gates of Buchenwald, the infamous camp near Weimar in Germany, where more than 56,000 prisoners from Soviet Union and Eastern Europe were killed during the war.
IKEA isn’t the first major brand to find itself in hot water for using the slogan. ExxonMobil and Tchibo used it to persuade German drivers to buy coffee at gas stations in 2009, but faced backlash from Jewish groups. Burger King, Nokia and Russian the telecom giant Beeline have also been pressured into removing the phrase from their campaigns in previous years. In most cases, the companies claimed that they were unaware of the slogan’s links to the Nazis.