Ikea at last succeeds in provoking Scottish outrage

THE SCOTS can take a joke about most things, but not about their sacred cloth - Harris Tweed, ridiculed by Ikea, the Scandinavian furniture giant, as "a nasty, itchy, old-fashioned fabric favoured by masochists".

The claim has sent kilts flying in the Hebrides following a full-page newspaper advertisement which suggests that folk would be better off buying "some soft, trendy Scandinavian fabric".

The advertisement, a ruse by Ikea to set the heather ablaze and publicise today's opening of their first Scottish store near Edinburgh, has been condemned as "crudely insulting" in an angry public statement from the Harris Tweed Trading Company. Its sales manager, Rae Mackenzie, said: "If the people at Ikea, instead of being crudely insulting, looked in fashion magazines today, they would see Harris Tweed being used for all sorts of different products. Maybe it could tell us the name of one Scandinavian cloth which rivals the name of Harris Tweed."

Ikea's publicists, who have been trying unsuccessfully to wind up the Scots for weeks, are clearly delighted to have found a sore point. An invitation to the store opening is headlined "Very, very, very lucky heather".

Yet until the humourless tweed-weavers took exception, Ikea had failed to raise much more than a chuckle in Scotland. A spokesman from Scotland the Brand even declared: "From our point of view those ads Ikea are using as traditional images of Scotland will be taken in good humour."

In contrast, when Ikea ran a "Stop Being So English" campaign earlier this year the Swedes raised plenty of hackles south of the border. "We got lots of green ink letters written by Mr Angry of Tunbridge Wells," said a delighted Ben Bilmoul of St Lukes, the London agency which designed both campaigns. Now, at last, Mr Bilmoul has unearthed Scotland's equivalent - Mr Mackenzie of Harris Tweed.

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