IKEA: A family meal through a child's eyes becomes a bright, bold, joyous gathering of giant toys

It would be hard to exaggerate just how much I love Ikea's new commercial.

Ikea subtly celebrates ideas of adults and children sitting down together
Ikea subtly celebrates ideas of adults and children sitting down together

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It’s so bright, energetic and deliciously directed that there’s a danger I’ll get carried away by its executional brilliance and end up gushing rather than reviewing. 

Now, maybe that’s no bad thing, since that’s the way consumers will react to it in real life: all too often, we forget that they don’t watch our ads with a clipboard at hand, assessing them against a battery of KPIs.   But in the name of due diligence, I will take a deep breath and try to articulate, in more measured tones, where the idea’s strengths lie.

First and foremost, it’s a great answer to a tricky business problem.   That’s right: behind the charming story of a family get-together, as seen through kids’ eyes, with giant teddy bears and loveable dinosaurs, there’s a strong commercial logic.  Ikea’s market is extremely challenging, with soaring raw material costs, decreased consumer demand and increased competition.

The obvious corporate response would have been to wheel and deal, and indeed the Swedish giant has taken steps to keep its prices keen.  However, you don’t post record global profits, as Ikea has done recently, just by piling ‘em high and selling ‘em cheap.  Instead, the retailer has also reasserted what its brand stands for – and the role it can play in people’s lives.  Since all the research shows that emotional approaches generate a higher ROI than rational messaging, this is a hard-nosed commercial call, rather than a soft option.

In particular, the campaign has a strong point of view.  These days, the best brands have an interesting opinion on the world, not just a clear positioning within their market.  In this case Ikea, is celebrating the idea of children and grown-ups sitting down together.  But this admirable sentiment isn’t delivered in a hackneyed, hectoring way.  It’s much more subtle and joyous than that. 

Which takes me to the next point:  the ad is pitch-perfect tonally.  Too many brands these days lack a distinct personality, leading to very samey communications.  Not Ikea.   This commercial exudes attitude from start to finish, helped by a brilliant soundtrack.  As a result of this – and the fact that the range is also showcased throughout – the branding is obvious long before the logo appears (a test we could all usefully apply, if you ask me).

Finally, the idea lends itself well to integration.  ‘Entertainment’ provides a strong over-arching concept, which is carried through to the website, without getting in the way of the more functional, room-based themes which you need at this touchpoint.  Meanwhile, the characters are very engaging, so work well in longer formats online: in particular an excellent ‘Making of’ video.   Moreover, the look and feel works brilliantly instore and on the ‘visual web’, inspired as it was by the product in the first place.

So yes, I admit: I love this ad.  But only for very serious commercial reasons. Dancing apes and magnetic robots don’t come into it, OK?

Brand strategy verdict: 9 out of 10

I’m sure this will work brilliantly for Ikea.  It’s refreshing to see a retailer so sure of itself and its role in the world.

Adwatch (Nov 21) Top 20 recall: Ikea
Latest Nov-21 Brand Agency/TV Buyer Recall
rank       %
1 (–) Comparethe
2 (–) Colgate
Y&R Paris/
3 -3 Argos  CHI&Partners/
4= (–) Sensodyne 

Grey London/


4= (–) Wonga.com  Albion London/
6 (–) DFS  Krow/MediaCom 41
7 (–) IKEA  Mother/Vizeum 36
8 (–) Ford B-Max  Blue Hive/
9= (–) Chanel No. 5  In-house/MEC 34
9= (–) Asda  Saatchi &
11 (–) Apple iPod  TBWA\Media
Arts Lab/
12 (–) WH Smith  DLKW Lowe/Carat 31
13 (–) Furniture Village  Wordley Production,
14= (–) Ariel  Saatchi &
14= (–) Yoplait 

Publicis Activ/
UM London

16= (11=) Homebase  Leo Burnett/
16= (-) Marks & Spencer  RKCR Y&R/
Walker Media
18 (–) Strepsils  Havas Worldwide/
19= (–) Waitrose  Bartle Bogle
Gottlieb OMD
19= (16=) Currys/PC World  M&C Saatchi/
Walker Media