August 14, 2013 / 10:40 AM / 7 years ago

Henkel pulls toilet freshener after Ukraine takes offence

KIEV (Reuters) - German consumer goods company Henkel has pulled a toilet freshener from the eastern European market after Ukrainians complained it looked like the former Soviet republic’s flag.

An employee shows a toilet freshener in the office of German consumer goods company Henkel in Kiev August 13, 2013. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

A television advertisement for the Bref Duo Stick freshener run in Russia (here) caught the attention of Ukrainians - many of whom watch Russian television - last week.

In the ad, the yellow-and-blue freshener which is shaped like a small flag is put under the toilet rim.

“A delirious idea from uncultured people,” one person commented on the YouTube clip.

Tore Birol, Henkel’s general manager for laundry and home care products in Ukraine, told Reuters on Wednesday the company had pulled the product within three days of seeing the complaints.

“We are very sorry if people were offended by the design of our new product,” he said. “We stopped the production, distribution and television advertising (of the product).”

Birol said the freshener, which had been marketed in central and eastern Europe but not in Ukraine, was colored yellow to represent its lemon scent and blue to symbolize water and hygiene.

Misuse of state symbols became a sensitive issue in Ukraine earlier this month, when the authorities found that Jared Hasselhoff, a bassist for American rock band Bloodhound Gang, had urinated on the Ukrainian flag during a gig in Kiev.

Ukraine has since launched a criminal probe against him and barred the musician from visiting the country for five years.

Reporting by Sergei Karazy; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov, editing by Elizabeth Piper

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