14:44 GMT29 November 2020
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    While the phrase “to each his own” has Latin origins, its German equivalent adorned the gates of the Nazi death camp Buchenwald. Previously, the same marketing faux pas was made by a number of companies, including Burger King and Nokia.

    Furniture giant IKEA has landed in hot water as its campaign slogan had Nazi overtones, according to some Russian customers.

    Despite having ancient origins and stemming from Roman orator Cicero, the German version IKEA's campaign slogan “To each his own”, “Jedem das Seine”, notoriously adorned the gates of Buchenwald, the Nazi death camp near Weimar, where more than 50,000 prisoners from the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe were killed during the war.

    The phrase dates back to the days of ancient Greek and Romans and reflects the idea of justice and fairness; in English it's interpreted to mean that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. In Russia, however, it is mostly associated with the Nazism and death camps, according to Russian MP Vitaly Milonov Vitaly Milonov. He drew comparison with the swastika, which has widely lost its meaning as the ancient Hindu symbol of peace and prosperity and has come to be mostly associated with Nazis.

    “I believe that IKEA, as a promoter of a soft and laconic world, should think better of it. We must urge it not to use this slogan”, he said, calling it “trash-level PR”.

    ​IKEA later retracted the slogan, issuing an apology.

    “We regret that this advertising campaign hurt the feelings of our visitors. We have great respect for history and admit our mistake. As soon as we noticed the feedback on the interpretation of the slogan, we immediately decided to stop the campaign,” IKEA said in a press-release.

    The Swedish company is not the first to land in controversy over interpretations of the Latin phrase Suum Cuique. Several modern advertising campaigns, including ads for Nokia, REWE grocery stores, Burger King, and Merkur Bank, have been marred by controversy after using translations of the Latin phrase. In 2018, Russian telecom operator Beeline sparked similar outrage, as its To Each His Own campaign was particularly ill-timed ahead of Victory Day, on which Russia and many other countries commemorate the capitulation of the Third Reich.

    ​All of them received a similar backlash and retracted the slogan shortly afterwards, citing unawareness of the quote's full history.

    Tags:
    Nazi Germany, IKEA, Sweden
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