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    When it comes to eye-catching, memorable ads, IKEA’s are some of our favourites.

    The key elements that mark out the Swedish retailer’s campaigns are a combination of humour, playfulness and emotion, often – but not always – focusing in on families having fun together, and how your home is a big part of that (especially relevant after the last couple of years).

    They’ve been running their delightful ‘The Wonderful Everyday’ spots since early 2014 and to celebrate the series, we’re taking a look at the best IKEA ads.

    Who Makes The Wonderful Everyday Ads?

    Who do they trust to keep coming up with the goods?

    In an age where brands often chop and change agencies to get a fresh take, IKEA have forged a long-standing relationship with creative agency Mother London.

    UK marketing boss Laurent Tiersen told Marketing Week that, ‘We prefer to invest in a long-term partnership and not keep hopping around. Therefore, we make sure all our agencies, from creative to media, develop things together. We work with Mother London like we would work with a designer on a new piece of furniture; there’s collaboration every step of the way.

    ‘If we work with a designer, we also work with the supplier to find the right set up to make sure their product is ethical, functional, beautiful and sustainable. It’s the same process with our creative and media agency partners. We regularly ask Mother London’s advice on wider business decisions such as how we can position ourselves in the UK market or how we approach prices. This level of collaboration is key to our success.’

    IKEA The Wonderful Everyday

    IKEA made its UK debut in 1987; however, by 2013, sales growth had declined and they challenged Mother London to develop a communications strategy to revitalise the brand.

    Mother’s Strategy Director, Kieran Bradshaw, said that they faced two core challenges, ‘change the fortunes of the business (turn around declining sales growth/revenue/penetration) and give the brand a renewed sense of meaning – not just for consumers, but also for co-workers and stakeholders.’

    The team hit on the idea that life isn’t about fleeting events, like a summer holiday, but the little, everyday things.

    Hence creating, ‘a brand new world of hyperbolic, surreal and cinematic renditions of life at home that demonstrated insight, yet brought more to people’s lives than simply holding up a mirror to everyday life.’

    IKEA Ads 2021

    ‘Every Home is a Haven’

    Aka the ‘brawn bears’ ad, Mother London’s spot was voted by creative peers in the Thinkbox Academy as the best TV ad to debut in September/October 2021, and it was definitely one of our favourite ads of last year.

    Mother said that the brief was to set out IKEA’s, ‘democratic mission: to make every home a haven’. That is, home should be a place where you feel safe, happy and protected, free from everyday life’s distractions.

    What makes you feel safe and secure when you’re a kid? Cuddling a teddy bear. Hence the buff bear bouncers defending the family home.

    The Mother team then, ‘spent a lot of time crafting the moments of protection in the film and figuring out how to do them in a way that landed the idea but also felt really playful and charming. For instance, why just hang up on an unwanted work call when the bear could crush the phone to smithereens? That’s much more fun.’

    The team told Campaign, ‘TV is where IKEA set out its strong point of view on everyday life at home and the importance it plays in everyday life. It’s where we inspire people to think differently about the home, not just for different’s sake, but because of the big emotional benefits it can bring to their lives. It’s also an opportunity to really revel in the wonder and magic that endears people to the brand.’ Which of course exactly chimes with the retailer’s tagline, ‘The wonderful everyday’.

    The soulful hip hop track used on the ad is Sampa the Great’s ‘Final Form’, from the Zambian rapper’s debut album, The Return.

    ‘Change a Bit for Good’

    Are you suffering ‘consumer fatigue’ when it comes to sustainable living? IKEA’s eco and sustainability-themed ad from May 2021 will strike a chord with anyone who loved Pixar’s Wall-E.

    A determined droid, inspired by a billboard that says, ‘Defender Droids Save the Planet’, tries his best to make a difference in cleaning up the environment, travelling from a clogged-up canal to taking on a truck and then trying to tackle a huge oil slick on a beach. His efforts are constantly thwarted and he returns home, looking defeated and utterly dejected.

    However, his little droid family home is kitted out with IKEA products, from a string bag for their veg to glass bowls that enable them to batch-cook, minimising food waste, and they’re even using a Flisat wooden toy storage box on wheels to grow veg in.

    Our cute robot ends his day with a smile. The ad expertly taps into how so many of us feel: we can’t have an impact when it comes to saving the planet. However, IKEA’s idea is that if we all make a few easy changes to live more sustainably, the power of change is in everybody’s hands.

    The music used on the ad is ‘Keep Movin’ by Crosby St Models, which features a mix of strings and determined beats with a slightly robotic, processed vocal, ideal for personifying our hero and his mission.

    IKEA Ads 2020

    The ‘Fortune Favours the Frugal’ ad from December 2020 also demonstrates the brand’s ‘waving goodbye to waste and embracing living in moderation’ ethos.

    IKEA’s Marketing Communications Manager, Kemi Anthony, said, ‘We’ve set the ambitious goal of becoming fully circular and climate positive by 2030,’ and that their aim is, ‘To democratise sustainability, demonstrating how easy it actually is to make very simple, affordable and meaningful changes.’

    An asteroid made of plastic toys, bottles and bags is shown rocketing towards Earth, contrasted with shots of a family who are living sustainably.

    A little girl listens to a tape on a Walkman (which is when the ad’s soundtrack, the suitably titled ‘Makin’ it Better’ by The Barons, kicks in), pickled food is put into glass jars with wooden tops, while there are herbs growing in the Bittergurka herb pot, and a woman replaces a lightbulb with one that’s more energy-efficient.

    As the asteroid gradually breaks up on entry, there’s a final plastic drinks bottle that lands in the family’s backyard. The little girl sprints out, picks it up and pops it into their recycling bin in the kitchen.

    IKEA’s latest recruitment ad, ‘Taste the Future’, further develops their sustainability theme:

    ‘The Hare’

    ‘The Hare’ is a fantastic IKEA bedroom advertisement from September 2020, which provides a hilarious ‘prequel’ to the fable of The Tortoise and The Hare.

    Our long-eared hero sets off, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for a BIG night out with the lads, incorporating everything from the pub to a kebab, a lengthy walk home when he misses the night bus, and then compounds the effect by staying up in the wee small hours when he’s home, phone-scrolling and watching TV, before eventually nodding off on the sofa.

    Meanwhile, in an apartment across town, Tortoise has had a lovely restful night’s sleep – the unsung hero of a great day (check out his huge stack of pillows and fluffy duvet!).

    He’s up and at ’em and ready to take on the race. Another bang-on song title – ‘Witness the Fitness’ by Roots Manuva – speaks to the dedication the Mother London team have for finding exactly the right fit for their ads.

    ‘Conquer the Great Indoors/Lion Man’

    ‘Did you know that a lion spends more than 18 hours a day relaxing?’ asks the soothing Wonderful Everyday voiceover man.

    The camera pans over a lion (well, a person in a massive lion suit), luxuriating on his lovely sofa (amusingly accompanied by his pet tabby cat). He watches some lion-based documentaries, reads a book with his feet up and does a few yoga stretches.

    However, the lion’s approach isn’t laziness, it’s preparation for taking on the energy required to entertain a bunch of energetic kids who then burst into the sitting room; our hero entertains them with everything from balloons to rides.

    ‘Relax into greatness’ is the advice we’re given, to relax and recharge both our bodies and minds.

    IKEA Ads 2019

    ‘The Nightclub’, IKEA’s ad from January 2019, celebrated its belief that ‘the greatest nights are the ones spent in bed’. Crowds of people are shown rocking up to a club and joining the queue.

    However, instead of sporting club gear, they’re wearing onesies, PJs and slippers; as they enter the club, they’re greeted by an array of beds under the mood lighting.

    They do their pre-sleep prep (face masks, teeth brushing, luxury hot chocolate – plus some bedtime reading and bouncing around), before snuggling down for a delicious night of sleep.

    And the soundtrack? What could be better than Roy Orbison’s epic ‘In Dreams’? Cleverly, this is an IKEA bedroom ad that’s not an IKEA bedroom ad.

    IKEA Ads 2018

    ‘Ghosts’ showcases IKEA’s stunning fabric selection, as a bunch of bright, bold spooks gatecrash a dull party hosted by white sheet-clad ghosts in a plain, largely beige, rather uninspiring suburban house, whose owners have gone out for the evening (special shout-out to the detail of the ghost dog!)

    Our colourful, patterned gang quickly take over the decks, putting on K7’s 90s hip hop anthem, ‘Come Baby Come’, start break-dancing and body-popping and everyone’s having a great time.

    When they spot the car headlights of the owners returning, however, all the ‘ghosts’ chuck themselves around the sitting room: a rug on the floor, a throw on the sofa, even the curtains. ‘Be a maverick with fabric’ is the tagline, as the homeowners look a bit perplexed by their brand new, style-and-personality-filled sitting room.

    For some extra fun, check out the VFX shots behind the scenes:

    IKEA Kitchen Advertisement

    IKEA’s ‘Cooks’ ad from July 2016 shows that when it comes to spending time in the kitchen, it’s about much more than food. ‘Don’t forget to feed Jo’, a mum says to her dad, as she heads off out, leaving the little girl and her granddad together, both parties looking slightly alarmed.

    The pair then proceed to have huge amounts of fun, messing about with food, tastes and utensils and making each other laugh uproariously.

    The resulting food (soup made in a wok, drunk from glasses) and sandwiches, may be disgusting (judging by granddad’s expression at the end), but the two have had a brilliant time together and are still merrily drumming away on a stack of pans by the time mum gets back home.

    The ad was directed by A-list French film director, producer and screenwriter Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who’s perhaps most famous for black comedy Delicatessen, The City of Lost Children and his biggest success, Amelie.

    The track used is ‘Caravan’ by Stephane Grappelli, which has bags of jazzy swing, and, of course, plenty of drumming and cymbals to tie in with the ad’s final frames.

    It’s perfect for this creative, as jazz is famous for bringing together freeform elements and making them work together.

    IKEA Christmas Ads

    ‘Waste’ was made by BBDO Russia in 2020, highlighting the issue of food waste during the holiday season.

    A small boy dodges huge pieces of food as they come crashing down from the sky onto the snowy streets where he’s playing.

    A giant cheese-and-olive toothpick! A turkey leg! He dives through a hole in a piece of cheese and has to outrun a tangerine (much like Indiana Jones’s escape in Raiders of the Lost Ark) before making it back to his tower block (complete with a draping of grapes), where he finds his mum scraping leftovers into the bin after a meal.

    ‘What if nature returns everything we throw away during the holidays?’ questions the voiceover as mother and son look in horror at the food raining down past their window. ‘Don’t let your celebrations go to waste’ is the tagline, as the two pack up the leftovers in IKEA’s Tupperware-style ‘lock and lock’ containers.

    The ad is soundtracked by the classic Christmas carol, ‘Here Come the Bells’, which, with its roundel structure, and layering of the voices, mimics the food cascading down from the heavens.

    At the opposite end of the spectrum is a festive Canadian IKEA ad from 2021, which uses an iconic Bollywood track. The Canadian family of South Asian heritage come together for the holidays, helped by IKEA’s little touches. The ‘Assemble Together’ campaign was created by a team that included members from a diverse set of cultural backgrounds and perspectives.

    From Indian and Persian to Filipino and Italian, and of course Canadian and Swedish too, the diverse personal experiences, unique holiday traditions and celebrations from across the group helped to inform the campaign insight, creative execution, and production decisions.

    The track used is ‘Chaiyya Chaiyaa’, an Indian pop-folk song, used in the Bollywood film Dil Se, composed by Oscar and Grammy-winner A.R. Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire).

    As for the best IKEA Christmas ad, it’s still got to be ‘Silence the Critics’ from 2019. A wonderfully ludicrous take on the state of our homes over the holidays, and the pressure people feel when it comes to entertaining and hosting, a crew of household objects unite to perform a scathing diss track, taking down nearly everything in the house.

    Legendary grime emcee D Double E did the duties and it won industry awards including two Yellow Pencils at the D&AD Awards.

    Holly Fraser, Director of Content at WePresent, revealed why she thought the ad deserved the award: ‘Work that should be celebrated is work that feels new, that breaks the mould and ignites conversation. That’s exactly what IKEA’s ‘Silence the Critics’ does. Subverting the tired, ‘pull at the heartstring’ formula usually rolled out for holiday season advertising, it instead uses grime music to create their own diss track, targeting the house in the ad. The result is a clever, catchy, conversation-starting piece of work that lived far beyond its original purpose, and instead turned into a cultural moment.’

    Clever, catchy and conversation-starting seems to sum up IKEA’s whole #TheWonderfulEveryday campaign – and long may it continue.

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