The combination of Ikea and Forsman & Bodenfors is a recipe for digital innovation, when you consider campaigns like Dream Kitchens and the more recent Facebook Showroom. But last year, the agency opted for a more lo-fi approach, with "Homemade is Best," a baking book unlike any other.
Instead of featuring the typical food-porn shots, it extracted ingredients of famous Swedish baked goods into elegant abstract compositions, all in the name of promoting Ikea's kitchen appliances. Some 50,000 copies of the book were distributed to Ikea customers for free in Sweden alone, but "Homemade" managed to get the brand noticed on a global scale. Ikea Marketing Project Manager Joel Iden said the effort's reach is more than 40 million people via the blogosphere and other outlets—not bad considering the country's population of about 9 million.
"Homemade" was the child of F&B graphic designers/art directors and former graffiti artists Staffan Lamm and Christoffer Persson, and Fredrik Jansson, copywriter and longtime creative director on celebrated Ikea digital projects such as Dream Kitchens. Although it was about as analog as you could get, "You could say there is a bit of digital thinking behind our baking book," says Jansson. "Often when we do digital work we try to provide people with useful content, websites or apps that provide people with something they actually need and can use for a long time. And that's exactly what we were aiming at with our baking book."
But the usefulness didn't stop at the oven. The team extended the campaign with the goofy, category-defying "Kondis," a workout app featuring a granny who nags its users till they burn off the calories of the recipes featured in "Homemade." The team had expected the app mainly to be a PR driver, but "for a long time it was one of the most-downloaded and talked-about apps in the App store," says Persson. "It seems like people had been longing for a training app that wanted them to eat more cookies, instead of the opposite."
Since then, the trio has dusted off the flour to work on other useful things. Between them, recent projects include a weather app for The Swedish Sea Rescue Society that visualizes dangerous waters for boaters, an online campaign for Volvo that showcases Scandinavian outdoor adventures, and Reebok's "The Promise Keeper," an app that engages runners' social networks to keep them accountable for their missed workouts, which Persson created with Facebook Showroom team Adam Ulvegarde and Robert Lund. Also in the works is another campaign for Ikea, promoting the brand's Sultan beds.
Meanwhile, the baking book hasn't slipped from the spotlight. It's currently making an appearance at the London Design Museum after earning Gold for Graphic Design at the annual Brit Insurance Design Awards. It's already started its own hardware collection from this year's ad awards circuit, earning Gold at the Andy Awards earlier this month. Beyond that, Lamm says, "We've been contacted by a number of book publishers who want to realize the book 'for real.' Time will tell where it all ends up."