By The Drum, Editorial

December 5, 2023 | 3 min read

Toronto is known as the ‘city of neighborhoods,’ so when Rethink was briefed with launching the new Ikea in the city, it leaned into that insight in efforts to resonate with the local community. Throw in some out-the-box creative thinking and the flat pack giant enjoyed a hugely successful store opening, which also picked up the Grand Prix at The Drum Awards for Out of Home, along with the Use of Location trophy. Here is the award-winning case study.


Introduce a new IKEA urban-format store in downtown Toronto, challenging the perception of IKEA as a brand only for suburban areas. The goal was to generate genuine excitement, build awareness, and drive foot traffic to the new downtown store.

Insight: Toronto is known as a "city of neighbourhoods," and to resonate with Torontonians, the campaign needed to connect broadly while also being specific to the downtown living experience. The insight was to leverage the city's charm, diversity, and neighbourhoods to convey that IKEA is "made for downtown living."


Living Billboards: Real homes in targeted neighbourhoods (The Distillery District, Beaconsfield Village, Humewood-Cedarvale, Parkdale, West Bend, and Danforth) were transformed into living billboards. These homes, with real people inside, featured iconic IKEA brand assets, creating a connection between the homes and in-store showrooms. The goal was to represent the diversity of life in Toronto.

Urban OOH Campaign: An urban-inspired out-of-home campaign surrounded the city with directional and Toronto-specific messaging. Phrases like "Come in on your commute" and "Go T.O. IKEA" were used to encourage consumers to visit the new downtown store. The OOH placements included TTC station takeovers, TSAs, Gardiner Expressway, Yonge & Dundas Square, and College Park.

Engaging Creative: The campaign utilized iconic IKEA brand assets, including the wayfinding arrows, to literally direct people to the downtown store. The creative aimed to resonate with the Toronto experience, making it feel authentic to the residents.


Media Impact: The launch campaign generated 62+ media stories and achieved 31+ million impressions, making a significant splash in the city.

Foot Traffic: During the campaign period, foot traffic to the new downtown store increased by 41% compared to the baseline. Noticeable lines formed outside the store.

Brand Tracking: In quarterly brand tracking isolated for Toronto, there was a 4% increase in top-of-mind awareness (TOM), a 1% increase in brand trust, and a 1% increase in Toronto consumers feeling inspired by IKEA.

The campaign successfully changed the perception of IKEA as a suburban brand, creating excitement, driving foot traffic, and positively impacting brand metrics in the targeted market of downtown Toronto.

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