Acclaimed debut novelist threatens IKEA with legal action for “using her heroine as a marketing tool”


AN acclaimed author is threatening legal action against IKEA, claiming part of her novel was used without credit in a new marketing campaign.

Candice Carty-Williams’ hit debut novel, Queenie, has been hailed as the “black Bridget Jones” for its portrayal of a young black woman struggling with work and a relationship break up.

So the London-based author was angered to see IKEA’s advert for their £150 Symfonisk light-up speaker also features a young black woman juggling her work-life balance.

Carty-Williams accused the firm of her using her character as a “marketing tool” and warned that lawyers for her publishers, Orion, were looking into the matter.

IKEA advert still
The advert appears to feature similar ideas

Queenie, published in March this year, features a 25-year-old woman of Caribbean descent who struggles to get noticed at work and struggles with her mental health.

IKEA’s unnamed heroine is seen falling asleep at work, staying up all night on her phone, and is unable to get anything done.

Carty-Williams’ Queenie is aided in her struggles by her loyal group of friends, ‘The Corgis’, who she presides over in a group chat as self appointed Queen.

IKEA’s character is also seen as part as “administrator of the ‘Royal Babes’ group chat”. As the advert ends, IKEA’s character is seen sleeping in bed underneath two pictures of Corgi dogs in royal outfits.

Carty-Williams, 30, took to Twitter on Thursday to vent her frustration over the apparent similarities.

She tweeted the advert with the caption: “IKEA I will forever love you and will continue to buy more than I need when I come to you but please if you’re going to use my novel as a marketing tool bring me in please.”

Queenie Book Cover
The novel was released in April 2019

But the next day, the author tweeted: “Thank you all for your support! No word from @IKEAUK as yet but my publisher’s legal team are ON IT.”

Fellow social media users were quick to support Carty-Williams’ stance.

BBC Radio 1 DJ Clara Amfo replied: “This is WILD. Come orrrrrrrn @IKEAUSA @IKEAUK

@IKEACANADA @IKEAUAE whoever runs these socials, screenshot and send to your marketing department, one of them has read Candice’s book and has absolutely lifted parts from it for this advert. Play fair and give her ££££££.”

Author Musa Okwonga added: “@IKEAUKSupport I like many others am extremely concerned to see this. I suggest your team addresses it as soon as possible – we will be observing this situation closely as it develops.”

@SimplyMsChloe said: “One of your teams is responsible and should rectify this ASAP!!!! Stop stealing and not crediting the hard work of black women.”

Author Candice Carty-Williams

And Katie Brown said: “The Royal Babes bit was REALLY on the nose.”

IKEA have refuted the author’s claims.

Kemi Anthony, Country Marketing Communication Manager at IKEA UK & Ireland, said: “To support the launch of our bedrooms marketing campaign we have created four unique animations, each one depicting a fictional character who is struggling with sleep procrastination.

“From a zombie princess who is awake all night, to a knight who spends all his time gaming, we wanted to illustrate the many different bedtime rituals in which people avoid getting a restful night’s sleep and how our bedroom product range and solutions can help.

“In this particular animation, the Queen of a group chat spends all her evening messaging on her phone, which means she is exhausted the next day at work. She is then given a speaker/lamp with soothing sounds which helps send her to sleep.

“The character and narrative of this particular animation have not been based on any existing novels and if there are any similarities, these are purely coincidental.”