Retailer gets flak over Inuka teapots

Netizens said it was tasteless and insensitive for the retailer to profit from Inuka's death. Many also questioned the launch's timing.
Netizens said it was tasteless and insensitive for the retailer to profit from Inuka's death. Many also questioned the launch's timing.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/IUIGA

Iuiga promotes line of teapots on Facebook a day after zoo's polar bear was put down

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, Iuiga put up a Facebook post of its Inuka teapot with lid, priced at $34.90. It said the teapot 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, this 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 was referring to well-known Swedish DJ Avicii, who was found dead last Friday in Oman.

A spokesman for Iuiga told The Straits Times yesterday that it "has heard and taken into account netizens' comments".

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 post and will not be posting any further on this matter," said Iuiga.

It issued an apology in a subsequent Facebook post yesterday, which also has a breakdown of the costs - such as material, labour and transport - of producing an Inuka teapot with lid.

The total cost of each teapot is $22.82, according to the post.

This suggests that the profit from each teapot is $12.08, as pointed out by some netizens.

Despite Iuiga's explanation and plan to donate all proceeds, many Facebook users remain outraged by the campaign, with some calling for the retailer to scrap it entirely.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2018, with the headline 'Retailer gets flak over Inuka teapots'. Print Edition | Subscribe