Instant Brand of the Year: Ikea Monkey’s sudden fame

It wouldn't be a "best of the year" roundup without mention of this fuzzy, fashionable primate. But did Ikea miss out on a marketing opportunity?

Marketers (and the editors of BuzzFeed) know that cute animal videos attract a lot of eyeballs. But not in their wildest of ideation sessions could the marketers at Ikea, a company better known for Allen keys and meatballs, have planned for the phenom that was Darwin the Monkey.

Without paying a cent, they reaped the rewards of the hype generated by the Japanese macaque, who became an internet sensation last December when he got loose from his owner’s car and wandered around an Ikea parking lot in Toronto wearing a shearling coat.

The “Ikea Monkey,” as he came to be dubbed, even as his ownership trial went to civil court, brought free press to Ikea while some commentators suggested the brand missed an opportunity. But Ikea’s public relations manager, Madeleine Löwenborg-Frick, says the company made a conscious decision to stay out of the story.

“We decided to allow the situation to continue to have a life of its own,” she says. “The attention it was getting was so far-reaching that there was nothing Ikea could have done to contribute to the momentum.”

The civil case over, Darwin will now live quietly at an animal sanctuary north of Toronto. But it’s safe to say the image of him in his shearling coat won’t soon be forgotten.

Illustration courtesy of Kid Icarus,