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Ikea's gnome advert sparks complaints

image captionIkea does not sell garden gnomes, while John Lewis stocked them for the first time this year

An Ikea advert showing gnomes going to war with a couple transforming their garden has received dozens of complaints.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said 50 people had complained and some found the advert "frightening".

The advert features a couple smashing and kicking gnomes in an attempt to clear them from their garden.

Ikea said the advert was meant to be "light-hearted", and the ASA said it was not going to take action.

The television advert shows a couple being confronted by increasingly angry gnomes as they attempt to clear out the old furniture and ornaments from their garden.

One scene shows a furious gnome standing over the body of his broken friend. The woman finally aims a hose at the combative gnomes and the jet of water smashes them to pieces.

The ASA received complaints that it was "offensive, unsuitable for children, frightening, violent and encouraged emulation and anti-social behaviour".

It said while it always takes complaints seriously, it was "surprised" by the reaction and had no plans to take any action.

"While we appreciated that the ad would not be to everyone's taste, we thought it was clearly fanciful and light-hearted. We also didn't share the view that it would encourage or condone violence or anti-social behaviour and was unlikely to upset children," the authority said.

Peter Wright, Ikea's UK marketing manager, said the campaign was a "light-hearted" way of showing a family breaking away from "the ultimate embodiment of everything that's tired and dreary about British gardens - the garden gnome".

Mr Wright said he was pleased the ASA has taken a similar view.

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

The Swedish furniture chain does not sell garden gnomes and has no plans to start.

'Mythical creatures'

The complaints come as the highest echelon of British gardening, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), put the humble gnome back on the map.

image captionCelebrities painted gnomes for a RHS Chelsea Flower Show charity auction

For its centenary year, the RHS lifted a century-old ban on gnomes at this year's Chelsea Flower Show.

A spokeswoman told the BBC: "There's no animosity towards gnomes. There has always been a ban on brightly coloured mythical creatures because we want horticulture to be the main feature of the display and want people to focus on it."

As part of its fundraising efforts to highlight careers in horticulture, the RHS is auctioning a series of gnomes painted by celebrities such as Elton John, Joanna Lumley, Lily Allen and Dame Helen Mirren.

The lifting of the ban prompted retailer John Lewis to stock up on gnomes for the first time.

The Homebase chain said it had noticed a "growing trend" for gnomes since the Chelsea Flower Show and was introducing a new range. The company said it had always stocked gnomes as they were "consistently popular".

More on this story

  • Chelsea Flower Show: Our love-hate relationship with garden gnomes