Swedish retailer Ikea was founded in 1943 by Ingvar Kamprad as a mail order sales business that half a decade later pivoted into furniture. 76 years later, Ikea has assembled a global retail empire and stays at the front of consumers’ minds with clever marketing efforts.
Largely known for its flatpack furniture and meatballs, the brand is always looking to drive footfall to its stores and highlight the convenience, simplicity and style on tap.
It is a brave marketer that looks to alluring stunts and activities to drive footfall to its labyrinthine stores.
Following here are some of Ikea's finest (a combination of eye-catching and well-read on The Drum) pieces of work that we have covered in the last five years.
1. Bath boats drive – February 2019
Ikea unveiled two large scale replicas of its Smakryp bath boat to clean up London’s rivers. The rubbish removed was upcycled into a unique sculpture, which will stand in its newly opened, sustainable Greenwich store.
It served as a strong social good stance, a stunt to promote a local store and probably drove sales of more than a few bath boats.
Captain The Good Ship IKEA. Calling all wannabe captains! This half term, we’re using innovative technology to power remote-controlled SMÅKRYP Bath toy boats that will clear rubbish from Deptford Creek. https://t.co/cJA55OiKBZ#Thames#fun@Creekside_Trust@IKEAUK#deptfordpic.twitter.com/VRXn4ltfh2
— Thames Active Ltd (@ThamesActive) February 16, 2019
2. Ikea Sleep Hub stunt – January 2019
As part of its sleep-orientated integrated marketing campaign, Ikea partnered with Dr Guy to help shoppers count sleep. This saw it create a unique sleepy nightclub that formed the core of a dreamy TV commercial.
3. Matchers Keepers show – March 2018
Ikea was seeking to smooth over shop floor arguments between aesthetically divergent partners with the launch of ‘Matchers Keepers’, an episodic YouTube game show in which couples and flatmates pair up to see just how closely their tastes align.
4. The Pee ad promotion – January 2018
Ikea ran an unconventional crib promotion – a discount code hidden behind a pregnancy test in a print ad. In short, mothers would have to pee on the ad to reveal the prize.
5. Change mocks Apple – September 2017
With its sensible pricing and simplistic design, Ikea could represent the absolute opposite of what Apple has on offer.
To this end the company mocked the iPhone ads and ran a ‘Think Different’ promotion of its own spotlighting its wireless charging lamps and side tables.
6. Ikea catalogue's comfortable bus stops – September 2017
Ikea marked the launch of its 2018 catalogue by installing full-size outdoor sofas at bus shelters in Sydney and Perth in collaboration with Adshel.
The couches were, of course, available in store.
7. Game of Thrones set dressing – August 2017
HBO's Game of Thrones costume designers were caught cutting corners, using Ikea rugs as pelts and capes for some of its extras – which the Swedish retailer was all too happy to jump on.
Ikea and its PR agency, Hope & Glory, saw a 775% increase in online searches for the Skold rug since the news broke. That Halloween there were more than a few Jon Snow impersonators stalking the night with a Skold draped over their shoulders.
8. ASMR ads – August 2017
Ikea promoted itself as a provider of rest, by running ASMR ads online showing the relaxing benefits of its home goods; the video showed college dorms gently being made up, as muted and distinctive sounds provide immense satisfaction.
9. Ikea Frakta bags – April 2017
Ikea issued a tongue firmly-in-cheek response to luxury fashion house Balenciaga’s cheeky riff on its iconic blue tote bag, by issuing a step-by-step guide to help consumers differentiate the 40p tote from its £1,705 copycat.
10. Flatpack climbing wall – September 2014
And finally, Ikea marked the opening of a French outlet with an unconventional display, after stacking a number of its wares onto a giant vertical billboard to double as a trippy rock climbing wall.
It's a meatballs to the wall stunt from the Swedish retailer that it should have made more use of in the last half a decade.