The two-page advertisement appeared on Wednesday in Swedish newspapers to promote updated smartphone apps for the Ica grocery chain.
It features "Ica Steve", a recurring character from a series of often humourous Ica television commercials meant to portray the staff at a fictional Ica store.
In the new ad, "Ica Steve" appears in a black and white portrait wearing glasses, with his thumb and forefinger touching his chin. The pose bears a striking resemblance to an iconic image of Steve Jobs, the late founder of Apple who died in October 2011, that appeared on his autobiography.
The image is accompanied with a tagline that is nearly a direct translation of the slogan used by Apple to launch the iPhone 4.
"This changes everything. Again."
The advert, produced by ad agency King, prompted a flurry or reactions on social media, with some people praising the campaign as "brilliant", while others panning at as ill-timed hyperbole.
Ica marketing director Håkan Sjöstrand defended the ad as a "celebration" of the Apple founder in the grocer's promotion of its digital media tools.
"The reason we've chosen this approach and this likeness is primarily so it's seen as paying homage to Steve Jobs' innovations when it comes to digital innovations," he told the Dagens Media newspaper.
"Another reason is that it's a good way to harness the entrepreneurial spirit that's built into Ica's DNA."
But communications strategist Charlotta Ribbefjord slammed Ica's Steve Jobs ad for "losing the magic" usually associated with the consumer electronics company. She added that a value-conscious purveyor of foodstuffs lacks credibility in using an iconic figure from the world of digital innovation.
"Ica is a company that successfully symbolizes bulk industry – food retailing – where positioning is about the lowest price or the biggest selection. The diametric opposite to Apple's entire essence," she wrote in media industry newspaper Resumé. "It's impeccably good looking. But from a timing perspective, too late to be a celebration for that simple reason and too early to joke about Steve Jobs."