CLOSE-UP: CLIENT OF THE WEEK; Ikea high-flier targets women

Hilary Pepler is planning to change the taste of UK women.

Hilary Pepler is planning to change the taste of UK women.

It seems a long way from Miami’s ritzy Coconut Grove district to

London’s North Circular Road. But then the Ikea communications manager,

Hilary Pepler, formerly a nanny in one of Miami’s nicest districts,

spent five years making journeys at least as routinely adventurous as

that one, as a British Airways stewardess.

This, it is rapidly becoming clear, was not the conventional route to

the top in marketing, not even perhaps to the top of the distinctive

blue-and-yellow tower that serves as Ikea’s head office in the

charmless, smog-filled surroundings of the North Circular Road.

‘I always say that if you can cope with a few overflowing sickbags and

juggle those plastic trays you can pretty much deal with anything

advertising can throw at you,’ says Pepler, with the ready assurance of

someone who has deflected questions about her career progression once or

twice before.

Her mission now is to persuade us Brits to be less stuffy about our

furnishings. Apparently, Ikea’s stock is 95 per cent the same the world

over. That 5 per cent contains those idiosyncrasies that make up a

national culture: the Norwegian reindeer racks, the Fat Boy E-Z Recliner

that wows corpulent America. Unfortunately, 5 per cent is not enough for

us Brits, who remain hopelessly devoted to doilies and many gloomy non-

Ikea lines besides. This is what Pepler aims to change with a pounds 4.5

million ad push, the first through St Luke’s (Campaign, last week).

‘We decided to review our account after eight years at Abbott Mead

Vickers BBDO precisely because we needed our advertising to take this

new direction,’ she explains. ‘We are targeting women because they still

have a fussy doll’s house aesthetic and because they tend to influence

the furniture that is chosen.’

Cue pictures of women freeing themselves of their old-fashioned

furniture and embracing bright ’n’ breezy Ikea styles to the backing of

an annoyingly catchy tune.

It’s certainly perky, and, as you might expect of a former stewardess,

Pepler can still find plenty to smile about.

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