The seemingly harmless black-and-white photograph, which soon gained notoriety, decorated the bedroom section of an Ikea store in Cardiff. The controversy was sparked as enraged customers suggested that the little boy caught posing with his finger over his top lip actually mimicked Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter reported.
Ikea acted promptly by removing the board, and issued a public apology. According to Ikea, the innocent image of a boy, which proved to evoke undesirable "Hitler-thoughts" in some customers, was used "to illustrate life at home."
"We can confirm that a photograph that could cause offence to some of our customers was found in our store. We often use photography to illustrate life at home in our room sets and as soon as we were made aware, the image was immediately removed. We apologize for any offence the image may have caused," the Ikea statement said.
Ikea's somewhat overcautious decision to remove the "suggestive" image sparked outrage on the web. Most notably, British comedian and actor Ricky Gervais, who is known for his atheist views and promotion of secularism, insisted that the complaint was absurd and mocked it in a series of derisive tweets.
Let's all try to get the most innocuous thing banned because it reminds us of something bad.— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) 12 октября 2016 г.
Please complain if you see something that makes you think of something bad in your head.— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) 12 октября 2016 г.
Another user sarcastically suggested that fake beards sold at Ikea's kid section were inappropriate as they brought to mind images of Osama bin Laden and Islamist terrorists.
Remarkably, this is not the first time arbitrary parallels between Ikea and Nazism have been drawn. In 2015, the Swedish furniture giant was forced to publicly deny it was selling swastika-shaped tables named Hadølf after doctored images went viral and sparked outrage across the web.