Ikea’s Inaugural Campaign

Ikea's inagural campaign

Currently, Ikea is running these faux-political ads in DC Metro stations. Click “more” to see Ikea’s mock-up of the Oval Ofice in Union Station.

Ikea's inagural campaign

Ikea's inagural campaign

Ikea's inagural campaign

Ikea's inagural campaign

Clearly, this is a time of renewed political engagement, but what do you think of Ikea seizing this opportunity to insert itself into the inaugural festivities? Tacky or brilliant? Personally, the idea that purchasing cheap, imported furniture is a positive political act is ridiculous. But, from Ikea’s point of view, there is something incredible [and brazen?] about wholeheartedly embracing this unique political moment for the sake of hawking disposable furniture.

Subway ad photos via AT; Oval Office photos via AT. This comes hot on the heels of the LEGO Inauguration, posted by CityKin.

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8 thoughts on “Ikea’s Inaugural Campaign

  1. As I’ve said elsewhere:

    I kinda agree that it’s a bit opportunistic, but IKEA actually *does* support and implement a lot of the green/sustainable practices that we’re now looking at as a country. In fact they have been doing so for decades and their current CEO has spent the last decade trying his best to make IKEA stores as low impact as possible. The stores do everything from huge solar panels and planted roof gardens, to geothermal heating/cooling systems to amazingly comprehensive recycling and recovery programs. On the manufacturing end they do everything they can to ensure that their materials are purchased from sustainable and responsible suppliers, as well as ensuring the working conditions and treatment of the workers is up to their (quite high) standards. They also focus on non-toxic materials and adhere to the most stringent standards (globally, for example German standards for VOCs and off gassing are FAR stricter, especially for children’s products than American) for their products.

    Since my wife and I run http://www.ikeafans.com, we’re not exactly impartial, but I *do* have a lot of background, so I can say with total honesty that IKEA actually is MORE green than most folks would believe, but their corporate culture is very different than US customers are used to, so they don’t tend to shout about it.

    Anyway sorry for the long diatribe :-). While I agree that the ad campaign is a bit heavy handed, I do think it’s not entirely inappropriate given some of the principles the new administration is focused on. I certainly think IKEA is a better match than say… Pepsi 😉

    Oh yeah… Concentrated High Fructose Corn syrup, that’s a good thing for ya :-P.

  2. Thanks for your comment, James. I actually think that the heavy-handedness of this campaign contributes to its success. I mean, an entire mock-up of the Oval Office?!? That’s incredible, and also pretty funny.

    However, I just don’t buy the “green” argument you make. If you want to be green, buy less, make do, shop locally, shop used, trade with friends, live with hand-me-downs. I disagree with the Ikea model — drive however many miles in order to purchase particleboard products made in China that will fall apart in two years and, since you made the trip, buy a bunch of other things you don’t really need, because everything’s just so cheap!

    I don’t hate Ikea. I do think that its cultish appeal, as evidenced by your site [but not only], is a bit insane, but it’s also amusing. I can’t think of another company that could whole-heartedly execute this campaign the way Ikea did.

  3. Oh IKEA does an excellent job of coming up with unique ideas for advertising, sometimes they are a bit too much for people that take them too seriously, but they are quite often a refreshing change :).

    And I’m certainly not trying to say that all of their products are heirloom quality master pieces, they certainly aren’t… But IKEA’s all about good design for your dollar, they widget things to the nth degree and often come up with unique solutions. The big problem is that so many people automatically associate IKEA with cheap dorm furniture. Sure they sell that stuff… But if you buy the more expensive pieces, it’s really quite good. The kitchen cabinets for instance are top flight, all BLUM hardware and generally flat out out perform anything you can buy in Home Depot/Lowes for a fraction of the price. Heck they’re better than a lot of the high end european manufacturers…

    Regarding the “Green” things, it’s not like I’m making it up :). Do some digging and you’ll find that IKEA actually IS very green. Thier very business model of shipping everything in flatpack form allows them to minimize the energy expenditures required to transport goods. They have VERY strict standards that their supplier have to abide by if they want to keep the contract, and those standards include treatment of their workers and responsible manufacturing practices.

    I’ve been behind the scenes in IKEA stores, and you would be amazed at the efforts they go to in order to promote recycling and minimize waste. Does it help them save money too? Some of it does, yes… The current CEO has been working very hard for the last decade to really incorporate sustainability in everything they do (see http://www.ikeafans.com/blog/ikea-ceo-dahlvig-disappointed-optimistic/ and http://www.sustainableindustries.com/sijnews/3290956.html?viewAll=y). They just announced the formation of a Green Startup VC group to the tune of about $77,000,000. New stores are being constructed to meet LEEDS standards for sustainability and older stores are being refitted as they can. It’s something they take very seriously… But they don’t *talk* about things like that much. Which from a North American perspective, is a bit odd… ::shrug:: But that’s just the way their corporate culture works.

  4. Thank you for sharing your insights, and it’s great to hear that Ikea is making positive changes. My point is just that less shopping is greener than more shopping, so it’s hard for me to get excited about these green initiatives. I think that a fundamental shift away from all this senseless shopping is what’s really needed.

  5. ::nods::
    Gotta agree with that :).

    Replacing perfectly good furniture just because people want to keep up with the “style” is a horrible waste of resources. My point is that people WILL still buy things, and I’m very pleased to see a large company putting so much emphasis on doing what *they* can to help reduce waste. Did you know IKEA was the first major retailer in the US to start charging for using disposable plastic bags? They started charging $.5 per bag (and caught a lot of flack for it) which was donated to reforestation projects. Once most of their customers (about 92%) started using the inexpensive reusable bags instead, they decided to stop providing plastic bags altogether in Oct of 2008.

    THAT’s a LOT of waste that’s not going in the trash… Though I find it appalling it’s a sad sad fact that something like under 1% of disposable grocery/store bags are recycled :(.

  6. I’d forgotten about the plastic bag situation, which was a great move on Ikea’s part.

    Back to the promotional campaign, I heard [but can’t find evidence online] that Ikea had an Obama moving van driving around DC as well, which would add yet another layer of impressive heavy-handedness to the photos I posted above.

  7. Pingback: I Wish We Had Ikea by Skinny laMinx « Visualingual

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