"Gender equality is a fundamental part of the IKEA culture and values."

Ikea has apologised and pulled a commercial aired in China that was branded as “sexist”.

The BBC reports that the Swedish furniture chain’s advert was deemed as insensitive towards single women. Unmarried women are known as “leftover women” in China and are pressured by society and their family into tying the knot.

In the advert, a daughter is seen being scolded by her mother for not “bringing home a boyfriend” during a family meal. “If you don’t bring home a boyfriend next time, then don’t call me Mum!” the mother says.

A well-groomed young man then appears with a bouquet, who is introduced by the daughter as her boyfriend. Her parents then bring out their Ikea tableware and decorations before serving the boyfriend plenty of food.

Online critics called the advert sexist. One Weibo user said, “this discriminates against singles and single women. No boyfriend, so your own family members look down on you, what kind of values does this transmit?”

Another said, “even if this sort of situation does happen in a lot of families, it’s not suitable to make advertisements about it, because it’s wrong.”

Ikea posted an apology on Weibo saying, “gender equality is a fundamental part of the IKEA culture and values.”

“This TV ad tried to show how Ikea can help customers easily and affordably convert a typical living room into a place for celebration. The purpose was to encourage customers to celebrate moments in everyday life,” it explained.

However, some were not sold by their apology. “It comes from a country that values women’s rights, yet Ikea can actually come up with such an advertisement,” said one commenter.

“As an international brand Ikea should bring us the best things from the world and benefit China. It shouldn’t be learning bad things from China and spreading them to the world,” another said.

Global News quotes one Weibo user saying, “I just want to ask IKEA, would they dare to show such an ad in their home country, Sweden?”

Ba Ge Zhuan Yong, a Weibo user with more than six million followers wrote, “whether having a romantic partner or not is one’s own business and does not need any interference from others, let alone an advertisement.”