IKEA explores new holiday possibilities

The retailer uses its diversity-focused platform to represent the realities of a wider range of Canadians this season.


IKEA Canada’s return to holiday advertising reminds families about the happier moments in life – even if they aren’t the kind of family that’s typically represented in ads this time of year.

In “Bottle,” we see a single mother doing her best to provide for her son. While there are happy moments throughout the year, there are also struggles and frustrations. But when the pair sit under the tree on Christmas morning, there are more than a dozen bottles labelled with things like “fun” and “kindness,” evoking moments in their lives that the boy has attempted to capture. The spot ends with a wide shot of the happy living room, with the name and price of IKEA’s Korken bottle as the only product information being displayed.

IKEA Canada AOR Rethink led creative on the campaign, with Jungle handling media. In addition to 90-, 60- and 30-second versions of the video that will be seen on TV and online, the campaign also includes 15-second versions for social and digital out-of-home.

Like the “Wonderful World” spot that launched IKEA Canada’s new “Beautiful Possibilities” brand platform, the new holiday video is free of any dialogue, instead using a song – in this case, Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love” – to convey emotion. And like all the creative released so far in “Beautiful Possibilities,” rooms in the ad are outfitted with IKEA furniture, but only select products and prices are called out, and not until the final moments.

As many brands have moved toward more emotional marketing in recent years, product pricing has become more associated with functional and tactical messaging. But Lauren MacDonald, head of marketing for IKEA Canada, says even when the goal is emotional relevance, pricing can still have an impact.

“For us, showing beautiful and inspiring rooms that are affordable helps us to differentiate IKEA,” while also showing how the brand sides with a broad swath of consumers – “the many” – through low prices,  she says.

The retailer has also been running social videos spotlighting the individual vignettes that made up the “Wonderful World” spot. MacDonald says the one showing a son helping to shave his elderly father has seen the highest engagement. That has shown the retailer that Canadians not only appreciate a reflection of diversity in its ads, but that diversity can take many different forms.

New holiday spots aren’t always a part of IKEA Canada’s marketing plans, having last done so in 2015. But MacDonald says the season lends itself to some of the key values the retailer hopes to convey through the “Beautiful Possibilities” platform. Not only does the spot’s message encourage people to focus on the “beautiful” moments they can lose sight of in the stress of everyday life, it was also a chance to represent a struggling single-parent family that isn’t often reflected in holiday ads.

“For us, it is about representing ‘the many’ or a wide cross-section of our society in Canada,” MacDonald says. “And those many Canadians are real families who may not always identify with the picture-perfect families portrayed in holiday communications. The holiday season can be particularly challenging for them, so we opted to tell a relatable story which could show a different reality during the holiday season.”