Photographer: Oliver Bunic/Bloomberg

Ikea Apologizes for Turning Down Actor Based on Skin Color

Ikea has apologized for turning away a black man on the basis of his skin color from participating in one of its advertisements.

The world’s largest furniture retailer in November hired a casting agency to find actors for a Black Friday commercial targeting the Greek market, Swedish broadcaster SVT reported Monday.

The casting agency proposed that Swedish actor Fernando Carabali receive the part but the production company said he wasn’t suited. In an email to Carabali, the London-based casting agency, which wasn’t named in the report, wrote that he "can’t be black for the Greek market."

Ikea spokesman Jakob Holmstrom said the company was looking for a blond, light-skinned man for this specific advertisement but failed to specify that in the casting process. "When the answer went back to Fernando, it was formulated in a very unfortunate way," he said.

All parties, including Ikea, have apologized to Carabali. Holmstrom said there was never a "bad intent" and that Ikea looks for a range of looks and personalities for its commercials.

Ikea has been pushed to apologize for advertising mishaps in the past. In 2012, it stirred controversy after removing some women from its catalog in Saudi Arabia. H&M, another namesake Swedish company, also faced racism accusations earlier this year when it published an ad showing a black child modeling a hoodie with the text "coolest monkey in the jungle."

"I’m tired of being discriminated against because of my skin color," the actor Carabali told SVT.

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