The Drum Awards Festival - Extended Deadline

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By The Drum Team, Editorial

February 1, 2023 | 3 min read

In partnership with The Drum, the 4A’s created the ‘Convene. Challenge. Change’ series. 4A’s president and chief exec Marla Kaplowitz leads a discussion with an agency leader and marketing partner on the challenges, opportunities and new ways of working in 2023.

In this episode in the series, Kaplowitz sits down with Carina DeBlois, president, Ogilvy New York, and Christine Whitehawk, external communications manager, Ikea, to highlight how collaboration is key within the brand-agency partnership.

Kaplowitz kicks off the session by asking Whitehawk about a recent campaign where collaboration was crucial on both sides of the brand-agency partnership.

“We had to prepare for a time when stores were closed to keep both customers and coworkers safe,” she says. “We connected with Ogilvy to talk about how the strategy of driving sales and traffic to the stores and online would now shift during this time, but we needed to understand how to keep the brand alive and let customers know we were thinking of them once the stores were reopened.”

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Holding brainstorming sessions and emphasizing a reassurance of trust were two critical elements during this time. The campaign for the Ikea audio catalog was born during one of these sessions – a way to commemorate the sunsetting of the physical iconic Ikea catalog.

Kaplowitz highlights the important reminder of what agencies bring to the table – something beyond just advertising and marketing – an understanding of the consumer and thinking more broadly about impact.

Kaplowitz then shifts the conversation to DeBlois by asking about what she considers the real hallmarks of a strong partnership.

“Campaigns that connect to culture and resonate with customers that are unique for the brand, most retailers can do work like that, but no one can own it like Ikea, says DeBlois. “A brand that has sustainability at the core – back in the 40s when the company was created, that was at the core, along with equality and inclusivity. Many brands today are trying to build it into their story because it’s relevant, but it’s naturally in Ikea.

“The partnership works effortlessly because Ikea brings Ogilvy along on the journey to help the team understand the depth and breadth of the brand. Equally important and critical is spending time together in person and immersing Ogilvy into the Ikea culture to better understand business results.”

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