Just a day after polar bear Inuka’s death, homegrown retailer IUIGA sparked a social media firestorm for naming its porcelain tea series after the much adored Singapore zoo icon, deemed by many as a tasteless product marketing move.
On Thursday (Apr 26), IUIGA posted on its Facebook page a picture of its new “Inuka” teapot along with the sentence “In loving memory of Singapore’s beloved polar bear”.
The caption reads: “In honour of the joy and delight Inuka has brought us, we’ve decided to name our porcelain tea series after him. White, beautiful, and commanding a strong presence, the porcelain tea series will cement Inuka’s legacy as the last Polar Bear in Singapore. #RIPinuka.”
The post has since garnered over 300 reactions, 200 shares and 180 comments, most of which are remarks by social media users slamming IUIGA for its insensitive and badly-timed publicity stunt.
Fingers were pointed at the company for supposedly leveraging on Inuka’s death to boost the sales of its product line.
IUIGA’s marketing campaign also seemed to have totally backfired with many users declaring an outright boycott of its products in strongly-worded comments.
And it hasn’t ended there.
In response to the damning backlash, IUIGA attempted to douse the flames with another Facebook post on Friday (Apr 27) apologising for its misstep.
“We understand that this is a sensitive issue, and IUIGA’s goal was never to profit off animal welfare,” IUIGA wrote.
“However, the IUIGA team would like to sincerely apologize on the sensitive time period of the campaign launch, and for any upset the post has caused.”
The post also detailed the “true costs” of producing one Inuka Teapot in an infographic, saying that all proceeds from the product line would be donated to Polar Bears International, a non-profit research and education organisation.
However, social media users were not appeased as they continued to pull no punches on the company, declaring the follow-up post to be unnecessary and counterproductive.
One user pointed out IUIGA’s intention of comparing the price of its teapot to that of other retailers, questioning if the teapot is an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) item simply given the “Inuka” name by the company.
Another user offered his own take on how the company should have dealt with the dire situation.