The Innovation 50: How IKEA creates iconic marketing moments on a par with its designs

The Innovation 50: How IKEA creates iconic marketing moments on a par with its designs

Back in 2013, everyone’s favourite flat pack furniture company Ikea made Valentine’s Day just a bit more special. Australians were given an imaginative and amusing offer: deliver a baby nine months from today and we’ll give you a free cot.

You had to cut out the coupon and provide proof of birth that showed your baby was born nine months to the day to claim the cot. It was a dazzlingly original marketing idea, and just one of the reasons why Chris Grabowski, Creative Director, Cirkle, nominated IKEA to the Innovation 50 power list.

Chris says, “They really do create some wonderfully brave and memorable stuff”.

Another classic Chris admires is the campaign by Publicis Spain for Ikea in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

While Ikea is a major retail novelty in the UK and USA, where customers have happily queued around the block to gain entry in the past, finding relevance for UAE consumers was a challenge. To capture their imaginations in a culturally-relevant way, Publicis recreated three iconic TV living rooms.

In 2019, three displays recreated the living rooms of TV classics ‘The Simpsons’, ‘Stranger Things’ and ‘Friends’. They were brought to life in print ads, catalogues, social media channels and experiential events to show how its furniture could be used creatively.

The infamous 'pee ad'

But perhaps its most courageously creative idea comes from its home market, Sweden – ‘The Pee Ad’.

In 2018, an ad for baby cribs in its catalogue was made from a paper containing technology similar to a pregnancy test. Would-be parents streamed into stores to obtain the catalogue, pee on it, and if the test was positive it revealed a discounted price on a crib.

Ikea is clearly an Innovation 50 company. A master of retail psychology (next time you enter a store, notice there are always desirable items at very low prices near the entrance because they know that the earlier you spend, the more you spend), Ikea is also without question a marketing innovator too.

With a 77-year history, one of the company’s marketing strengths has been its traditional customer research to understand how people live or want to live by spending time in people’s homes. This is the starting point for the furniture they develop. More recently, the company has combined this with digital insight to create richer insights.

This will no doubt lead to yet more iconic marketing initiatives to sell yet more iconic furniture and hardware.