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Advertising, as do most art forms, tends to reflect the society in which it's framed. Advertising creates images that help influence consumers to buy a certain product or service-an art form with a purpose.

And, as with other works of art, there is an aspect of advertising that seeks to force open the envelope-to show a real yet less visible aspect of society before the wider audience. Benetton's ads come to mind.

Now we see a new TV commercial in a continuing series from Deutsch Inc. for furniture retailer Ikea, a deliciously humorous campaign where seemingly real people low-key their way through the shopping experience. The Swedish chain, with stores primarily on the East and West coasts, has shown among its customers a divorced woman buying furniture on her own for the first time, a family with an adopted son, an engaged couple. These are all situations that relate Ikea to the American consumer. All are tastefully, successfully done spots.

Ikea's latest, featuring a portrayal of two young gay men, is now part of the campaign. The chain's management and its ad agency are to be commended for taking this important step.

We're sure they'll hear complaints from some quarters for depicting gays, but the fact is this commercial does not exploit sexual orientation for shock effect. Instead, the young male shoppers fit neatly into the texture of Ikea's campaign, which mirrors society as it is today.

With one added benefit: It reflects nicely on advertising, too.

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