Ikea Retail Therapy

Swedish agency Åkestam Holst spent 2016 using Ikea ads to explore family dynamics in all shades. Then, they came up with an ad that was a masterclass in how to rethink advertising.

With “Retail Therapy,” Ikea’s website renamed products to match common Google searches in Sweden. Here are a couple of examples –
“My daughter is out all night” – a disco ball
“My partner annoys me” – a double-desk separated by a cubby wall
“He can’t say he loves me” – A magnetic writing board :)

Additionally, this campaign was also smart because high volume searches for terms like “He can’t say he loves me” lifted Ikea’s product ads to the top of the Google Adwords pile. AdWeek accurately called it “a visibility coup so maniacally clever that it’s hard to hold a grudge.”

We don’t sell products. Instead, we sell solutions to problems. Ikea’s ad campaign was a wonderful illustration of that idea. Well played, Ikea.

“Whether it’s a snoring husband, a never-ending gaming son or any other relationship problem you have, Ikea can come to the rescue … or at least put a smile on your face while you keep Googling for an answer.” – Ikea Retail therapy

Source and thanks to: Adweek, The Retail Theory ad spot (1 min, 36 seconds)


Clay Christensen pushes product creators to look at their products as a vehicle to get a particular job done. FedEx, for example, fulfills the job of getting a package from here to there as fast as possible. Disney does the job of providing warm, safe, fantasy vacations for families. Great businesses get this concept. And, IKEA is a great example of a great business that does.

On first glance, IKEA is just a simple furniture store. Why hasn’t someone just copied their product line and catalog? IKEA focuses on the job it is hired to do while its competitors define their businesses by product or customer segments (high end, low end, etc.). IKEA gets hired to quickly furnish or re-furnish a house. So, they are designed for just that. For example, furniture is easy to carry, deliver home, and assemble. There is a kids area so parents can focus on the shopping. Furthermore, there is even a restaurant so you don’t worry about your next meal. Finally, lest we forget, they are also very affordable.

My wife and I have been IKEA shoppers since we left home for university ten years ago. So, this isn’t just a cool case study. We’ve visited IKEA in every place we’ve lived – typically within the first week of getting there. Seeing products with Swedish name tags around our home is normal for us. The table and chair I’m using to type this has Swedish roots. I know furniture connoisseurs scorn their furniture. But, we love it. And, here’s hoping we never get too fancy to continue loving it.

IKEA released a beautiful one minute ad about a mom taking her son shopping.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4V1V7aToJR0%5B/embedyt%5D

It is a beautiful example of being “on brand.” They get what customers come to them for and keep things simple… consistently. It shows.