Polish conservatives boycott IKEA after advertising pulled from TV station over anti-immigrant remarks

Prominent conservative figures in Poland have launched a boycott of IKEA after the Swedish furniture giant withdrew advertising from a TV station that has recently aired controversial remarks opposing the EU’s proposed migration pact.

Earlier this week, one commentator on TV Republika, Jan Pietrzak, suggested that immigrants relocated by the EU to Poland could be sent to Auschwitz and other former Nazi-German camps.

The justice minister has asked prosecutors to investigate a TV commentator’s suggestion that migrants relocated by the EU to Poland could be sent to Auschwitz.

His remarks were also criticised by the @AuschwitzMuseum and President Duda’s chief of staff https://t.co/ovLv3EwUwS

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) January 2, 2024

That was followed on Wednesday by another of the station’s commentators, Marek Król, suggesting that migrants relocated to Poland “should be microchipped, just like dogs are” or, to save money, instead have “numbers tattooed on their hand and then they’ll be easy to find”.

TV Republika’s programme director, Michał Rachoń, subsequently issued a statement saying that the station “deeply disagrees with Marek Król’s statement” and opposes “the dehumanisation of people”. The broadcaster has, however, defended Pietrzak from criticism.

After Pietrzak’s comments were made but before Król’s, a social media user noted that IKEA advertising was appearing on TV Republika’s YouTube channel. She asked the firm why it was “sponsoring a station promoting homophobia, racism and xenophobia”.

Reklama w tv republika 😡😡😡@IKEAPolska dlaczego sponsorujecie telewizję propagującą : homofobię, rasizm i ksenofobię? pic.twitter.com/YUDbwiOoYI

— Ewa (@Ewa0909Ewa) January 2, 2024

In response, IKEA’s Polish branch thanked her for drawing their attention to the issue, which they said they were not aware of because advertising placement was handled by a third-party media house and TV Republika had only recently been added to the package.

“From tomorrow there will be no more advertisements on TV Republika,” wrote IKEA on Wednesday.

Another firm whose adverts had previously appeared in TV Republika broadcasts, mBank, also issued a statement yesterday saying that “we do not support the activities of this station, which is why we have stopped broadcasting adverts [on it]”.

2/2 Pakiet kupuje się w całości, zatem nie byliśmy świadomi zmiany oferty. Od jutra nie będzie już naszych reklam w Tv Republika.

— IKEA Polska (@IKEAPolska) January 3, 2024

In response, TV Republika’s boss, Tomasz Sakiewicz, announced a campaign to boycott IKEA. It was quickly joined by figures from other conservative media outlets, including Cezary Krysztopa, editor-in-chief of Tygodnik Solidarności, and Rafał Ziemkiewicz of Do Rzeczy.

Meanwhile, some figures from Law and Justice (PiS), the national-conservative party that ruled Poland until last month but is now in opposition, also joined the campaign against IKEA.

“We won’t buy anything from you anymore,” tweeted Beata Mazurek, a PiS MEP and the party’s former spokeswoman.

A number of figures, including PiS deputy leader Antoni Macierewicz, also drew attention to the fact that IKEA recently offered to help the new government with its migration policy.

Korporacja, która zwalnia ludzi za cytowanie Pisma Świętego, chce wprowadzać w Polsce politykę migracyjną. Dożyliśmy ciekawych czasów. pic.twitter.com/GhVloz11YZ

— Antoni Macierewicz (@Macierewicz_A) January 4, 2024

IKEA has already been the target of anger from Polish conservatives over its decision in 2019 to fire an employee in Poland for posting homophobic remarks on the company’s internal messaging system, including quoting biblical passages suggesting that gay people deserve to be killed.

The justice minister in the PiS government, Zbigniew Ziobro, personally intervened in the case, calling IKEA’s decision “absolutely scandalous”. In November, after a long-running legal battle, the Swedish firm was ordered by a Polish court to reinstate the employee.

Since the new government, led by Donald Tusk, took over public media last month and removed PiS-appointed figures, TV Republika has seen its audience expand rapidly as many former state TV presenters and viewers migrated to the conservation station.

The broadcaster again drew controversy today after a far-right MP, Marek Jakubiak, likened relocated migrants to “unwanted waste” during an interview with the station and said they would turn “Poland into a garbage dump”.

„Poland will not accept illegal migrants” under the EU’s proposed migration pact, which includes a relocation mechanism, says PM @donaldtusk.

„We will not accept a single migrant. Poland will never be part of such a mechanism” https://t.co/3Xov85mVN2

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) January 4, 2024

Notes from Poland is run by a small editorial team and published by an independent, non-profit foundation that is funded through donations from our readers. We cannot do what we do without your support.

Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign PolicyPOLITICO EuropeEUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

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