Ikea changed the Chinese name of its stuffed wolf toy because the earlier version sounded like a vulgarity in Cantonese, after the toy became a symbol of government opposition in Hong Kong.
The new name of the plush toy wolf from the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale contains the Chinese character for “good fortune.” The earlier name sounded like a vulgar anatomical reference in the Cantonese dialect which uses the same characters as Mandarin but pronounces them differently.
The previous translation “was unfortunate,” Ikea said in a statement issued through Edelman Public Relations Worldwide. “This has now been corrected.”
Protesters threw the toy wolf at Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, whose popularity is near a record low, at a forum on Dec. 7. Leung has been dubbed “Wolf Chun-ying” by newspapers critical of his policies, and the toy is sold out at all three Ikea stores in Hong Kong, according to an inventory search on the company’s website. The toy is listed as “not in stock” at 11 of 14 of Ikea’s stores in China, according to the website.
Leung posted a picture of himself with the toy wolf, which retails for HK$99.9 ($13) and is called Lufsig in other languages, on his official blog.“Hong Kong people’s creativity has no limits,” he said in the blog post.
Leung has a support rating of 42 on a scale of 0 to 100, according to a University of Hong Kong Public Opinion Programme survey conducted from Dec. 3 to 5.
The wolf is part of Ikea’s new soft toys range, which is “inspired by the European fairy tale tradition,” the company said in its statement. The wolf, clad in a red-checked shirt and blue pants, clutches a doll of an old woman.
“Your child can have fun recreating the fairytale by rescuing the grandmother from the wolf’s belly, safe and sound,” Ikea’s website says.
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