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Ikea: transforming the everyday

Posted by Symon Dickinson - Creative Director at PHMG on

Ikea recently celebrated their 30th year in the UK – three decades of pushing creative boundaries, one ad at a time. Following this anniversary, we’re going to explore exactly how Ikea makes an impact through copy, sound, and voice – not just in the UK, but across the globe.

Back in 1996, the Swedish superbrand launched their ‘Chuck Out Your Chintz’ campaign, with creator Trevor Beatty stating that his intention was to challenge the notion that British people need to “make their house as beige as possible.” Since these early days, Ikea has continued to encourage colour and creativity, not just among their shoppers, but in their ads too. Music has been key in this endeavour, as heard in their ‘Make a Fresh Start campaign’, which introduces lyrics from Cast’s Walkway track: “Just pack up, ship out, find a place of your own”. It’s a genius way of sparking an emotional connection with Ikea’s products – combining a sense of freedom with a ‘happy-go-lucky’ vibe. And it’s not just this ad that utilises music to make an impact. In their widely-talked about ‘Time For A Change’ ad, we’re introduced to a gang of aggressive gnomes – confronting frightened homeowners as they attempt to clear them from their garden. A comically sinister scene, the humour is heightened through the stark contrast of the musical backing – an operatic-style cover of Motley Crue’s ‘Time for Change’. It’s a perfect example of how Ikea puts a creative twist on the everyday.

In many of Ikea’s ads, voice is used just as creatively as music – working in tandem with copy to send out a memorable message. The ‘There’s no Bed like Home’ video is a perfect example of this – especially when Prunella Scales utters the line, “we are such stuff as dreams are made of” from The Tempest. This instantly dramatises the advert – adding theatrics while adopting a soothing, peaceful tone perfectly suited to sleep. Then to close, there’s the signature voice that makes Ikea instantly recognisable – their name read with the Swedish twang of ‘Ik-eya.’ Because while it’s a UK ad, they’ll always have an inherently Scandinavian brand identity.

However, it’s not just in the UK that Ikea thrives as an advertiser. As a global brand with stores in 24 countries, it’s vital they appeal to different cultures – including Saudi Arabia. Ikea’s ads in this territory aim to carefully balance the country’s values – without losing sight of their brand in the process. And while certain marketing strategies have sparked controversy, they’ve made every marketing decision to maintain universal appeal. In the US meanwhile, they’ve developed their own version of the American Dream that’s ‘just a little different.’ Last year’s campaign put forth the suggestion that ‘making it’ is no longer about having a mansion and fancy SUV on your driveway, but having meaningful experiences in the home. While this may seem contradictive for a home furnishing giant, it’s subversion of ‘success’ really works – all thanks to powerfully emotive copy such as:

‘Today, it’s not about having more, but being more. For ourselves. For our loved ones. For the world.’

Ikea is renowned for the way it’s grown into a global marketer with a real understanding of its international audiences. And just like we do, they’ve employed music, voice and copy in creative ways to make a truly memorable impact.

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