Will a generation that doesn’t know life without Ikea survive in a house from the past? Six reality show contestants found out in a Big Brother-style show dubbed ‘Trapped in the 90s’.
Blurring the line between reality, fiction and advertising, the series was created by McCann Spain in celebration of Ikea’s 25th anniversary in the country. During the show, the group of young contestants lived together 24/7 and were left to their own devices in a house that could be straight out of your favorite throwback sitcom.
“We didn’t want to make an ad that looked like a reality show,” says Emiliano Gonzalez De Pietri, chief creative officer, McCann Spain. “We wanted to make a reality show. Period. You could call this an integrated campaign and you would be right – it’s totally pervasive. But the way we see it, it’s an extremely popular TV show that happens to be an Ikea campaign.”
The retro set was modeled on a typical Spanish home from the 90s and stripped of all the usual Ikea slick and practical homeware, such as its famous storage solutions and airy duvets. The bedding is itchy, the bathroom is way too small for any kind of beauty routine and the telephone is practically an unknown object.
“It’s the first time that Ikea has made a campaign in the format of a reality show,” says Laura Durán, marketing and insights director, Ikea (Spain). “The goal was to show in a humorous way how Ikea’s products have democratized design, marking a before and after in Spanish homes since its arrival in 1996.”
The eight-part series is available to stream online and shows the participants completing difficult tasks including playing a CD, making pizza in the vintage-style kitchen and taking photos that you can’t see instantly. McCann worked with specialized reality show producers and writers to create the show, and spent weeks searching for the perfect mix of contestants.
“This is the most successful branded content campaign we’ve ever done. Every single metric is off the charts. Spain has officially fallen in love with ‘Trapped in the 90s’,” adds Durán.
Thankfully, as the show progresses, we see that civilization didn’t entirely bail on the reality stars. Ikea’s new arrivals, albeit administered in painfully small doses by the showrunners, gave them a glimmer of hope and a way to survive the ordeal.