By The Drum, Editorial

January 11, 2024 | 3 min read

Rethink won in the Retail category at The Drum Awards for Experience for its work with Ikea Canada. Here’s what went into the campaign...

Objectives and Challenges:

For decades, Torontonians have had to venture outside of the downtown core to get to IKEA. Until now, the brand experience was a “pilgrimage” out to Etobicoke, Burlington, Vaughan, or North York. This resulted in many would-be customers opting out of the hassle of the IKEA trip in favour of more easily accessible options closer to home.

In short, IKEA was starting to be at risk of feeling like a suburban brand for suburban people.

This campaign’s key objective was reaching our Toronto target in a way that felt true to the city living experience. We knew a generic "opening soon" message would fall flat. Instead, we needed to find a unique way to build genuine excitement for a first-of-its-kind IKEA urban-format and drive foot traffic into the store.

The insight:

With the new downtown store catering to small-space living (more than 2,000 products for immediate takeaway, a Swedish Deli, larger items for delivery), we knew we had something that Torontonians would be interested in - but instead of telling them a fictional story about it, we found it much more impactful to show them the reality of our solutions on an urban canvas.

Execution: To grab attention from an always-busy big city media landscape, and to prove to Torontonians that we truly are “made for downtown living,” we set out to create an experience that had never been seen before. We made living ads out of the city itself - using real homes (with real people in them!) and turning them into instantly recognizable IKEA “billboards.” We leaned on our iconic IKEA brand assets like our logo and price call-outs from the world-famous catalogue, and the homes instantly became windows into the world of potential that IKEA could unlock in the homes of Torontonians.

From there, we surrounded the city with an urban-inspired OOH campaign. They were all on routes of travel (TTC stations, bus stops, Gardiner Expressway) or walking distance of the store (Yonge & Dundas Square) and in spaces people were actively shopping (Yonge & Dundas Square, College Park). Again leaning on iconic IKEA brand assets like our wayfinding arrows - we directed big city folks to the downtown store in a way that felt true to their experience living in Toronto.


The campaign achieved much more than a side-eye from the neighbours (though we’re sure there were a few of those). These billboards were a key part of a launch campaign that garnered 62+ media stories, and 31+ million impressions.

While this campaign was in-market, the downtown store saw foot traffic 41% higher than the baseline, not to mention the noticeable lines that formed outside the store each day.

In our quarterly brand tracking, isolated for Toronto, we saw +4% in TOM awareness, an increase in brand trust by over +1%, and, importantly, Toronto consumers feeling inspired by IKEA lifted by +1%.

Read more award-winning stories over on The Drum Awards Case Studies hub.

Awards Case Studies Experience Case Studies Marketing

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