SINGAPORE - Local homeware and lifestyle retailer Iuiga has received flak from netizens for marketing a line of porcelain teapots named after polar bear Inuka, a day after it was put to sleep by the Singapore Zoo on humane grounds.
On Thursday (April 26), Iuiga put up a Facebook post of its Inuka teapot with lid, priced at $34.90.
It added that the tea pot was named "in honour of the joy and delight Inuka has brought us".
"White, beautiful, and commanding a strong presence, the porcelain tea series will cement Inuka's legacy as the last Polar Bear in Singapore," the post said.
However, their move prompted a backlash from netizens, who said it was tasteless and insensitive for the retailer to profit from Inuka's death. Many also questioned the timing of the launch.
Facebook user Alf Sohfi wrote: "It's a cheap and insensitive marketing gimmick. There are a thousand names that you can use. Otherwise, make sure you send all your sales proceeds to the Wildlife Reserves Singapore!"
Another Facebook user Jack Lee quipped: "Why don't you sell Avicii teapot as well?"
The user made the comment in reference to Swedish DJ Avicii, who was found dead last Friday in Oman.
A spokesman for Iuiga told The Straits Times on Friday that it "has heard and taken into account netizens' comments on its latest posts".
She said Iuiga "would like to highlight that the launch of the porcelain tea series was purely as a tribute to Inuka".
"At the point of posting, the team thought of remembering Inuka in its own way. Its goal was never to profit off animal welfare, nor to capitalise on the name," she said.
The team apologised for the "sensitive time period of the campaign launch and for any upset the post has caused".
Iuiga added that all proceeds from the Inuka line of products will be donated fully to the non-profit organisation Polar Bears International, which advocates conservation of polar bears and their habitats.
"Iuiga will not be removing the posts and will not be posting any further on this matter," said Iuiga.
It had issued an apology in a subsequent Facebook post on Friday.
A poster breaking down the costs that go into an Inuka teapot with lid suggests that the profit earned from each teapot was $12.08, which was pointed out by netizens in the post.
"We heard you regarding our tribute to Inuka with our range of porcelain tea series. We understand that this is a sensitive issue, and Iuiga's goal was never to profit off animal welfare," said Iuiga in its post.
"However, the Iuiga team would like to sincerely apologise on the sensitive time period of the campaign launch, and for any upset the post has caused."
Despite Iuiga's explanation, many Facebook users remain outraged by the campaign, with some calling for the retailer to scrap it entirely.