Brilliant Vision, Wonderful Actress, Racy Punchline

By Published on .

Advertiser: Ikea
Agency: Carmichael Lynch, Minneapolis
Ad Review rating: Three and a half stars

We here at Ad Review have some good news for you, some great news and some terrible news.

The good news is that we just had a baby. Ida Rose Ad Review is 7 pounds, 5 ounces, and beautiful (albeit so far extremely stupid. She thought the Senate would pass President Bush's tax-cut proposal untouched). Duh.

The great news is that the Philadelphia Phillies, at this writing, are undefeated and leading the National League East.

The terrible news is that the Ikea "You can't be too organized" spring sales event has just ended, and with it our favorite commercial.

Racy punchline
That we so loved this spot will disappoint some, considering the racy nature of the commercial's visual punch line. But while we understand that we are the moral compass for a nation, funny is funny, and the real disappointment is that this splendid, unexpected little vignette has run its course.

The spot opens in the dark, cluttered living room of a young couple. The wife is staring (at first we think) listlessly out the window. The husband is at the table, eating cold cereal. But then we realize she is actually staring wistfully out the window, admiring the neighbors' bright, well-lighted, extremely uncluttered living room, which is tastefully decorated with Ikea furnishings.

"I wish we could be that organized," she says, with only the faintest bit of expression. The husband rises, cereal bowl in hand, to join her at the window. "People like that never have fun," he says. "They're uptight."

The commercial is already amusing at that point, because this is not F. Scott and Zelda we're looking at here. She's a bit mousy, nervously fingering her slender necklace. He's spending his evening eating cold cereal. But then the payoff: Across the way, we see the neighbor husband come running down the steps in his underwear, followed immediately by his wife, who is dressed in a leather teddy, wielding a whip and chasing him.

The mousy lady watches the scene for several long seconds, taking it all in, before finally speaking again -- in the same, nearly expressionless voice: "They don't seem that uptight." Then a quick-cut series of title cards featuring Ikea space-saving furniture items and the onscreen super: "You can't be too organized event. Through April 8."

While it's too early to declare her a shoo-in, we can safely predict that this actress -- Ingrid Doucet of Toronto -- will be a finalist in the Fourth Annual Bobby Awards for acting achievement in TV commercials. She's brilliant. And the spot itself is wonderful, too.

A different approach
Carmichael Lynch, Minneapolis, has veered sharply from the authentic-lifestyle approach employed so magnificently for so long by the predecessor agency, Deutsch, New York, and from the equally brilliant form-and-function work done by Ikea's first U.S. shop, Goldberg, Marchesano, Washington. But the change of direction is no wrong turn. This spot fleshes out Ikea's bright style and its utilitarian value simultaneously, using the minimum of copy to tell an irresistibly funny little story.

A second spot isn't as hilarious, but it's an even more vivid demonstration of Ikea's clever, colorful designs.

This one has a young mom in a lovely Ikea-furnished living room, where not a submissive husband but a 6-year-old kid comes running down the steps.

Kid: "Mommy, have you seen my Space Patrol?"

Mom: "Stuffed animal or action figure?"

Kid: "Action."

Mom: "Uh, manual or battery-operated?"

Kid: "Battery."

Mom: "Your bedroom. Northeast corner. Second column. Orange Box."

As she speaks, we see the bedroom, and the colorful stacking storage crates where all his stuff -- including his Space Patrol -- is well organized.

Kid: "Thanks, Mom."

Miracle of organization
He runs up the steps, and she smiles in sly satisfaction. Why not? She has just been a participant in the impossible.

We know this because Ida Rose is not the first Ad Review child. The others are fully ripened, but we have been tripping over their tossed, willy-nilly crap for years. We therefore appreciate the Miracle of Organization.

Such as the league-leading fightin' Phillies seem to have discovered. But, really, enough of that.

Boasting doesn't become us.

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