Creativity 50 2011: Nils Larsson

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Nils Larsson
Nils Larsson

You might call Nils Larsson an Ikea lifer. His first job was wrangling the retailer's trolleys as a part timer, while deciding whether or not he wanted to become an engineer. But, "amazed by the spirit of the brand," he says, Mr. Larsson decided to drop engineering and stick around—for more than 30 years.

Today, he's the Marketing Manager at Ikea Sweden, where he's signed off on some of the brand's globally celebrated work, including Facebook Showroom, Homemade is Best and Dream Kitchens, all created out of Forsman & Bodenfors. Outside of those award collectors, Larsson oversaw even more unusual approaches to promoting Ikea's various offerings, including the "Vagvissor," or "Lullabies" campaign, in which Forsman enlisted modern day artists to record covers of famous Swedish bedtime tunes, to promote the brand's beds and mattresses, and the "Garderob" or "Wardrobe" effort, an online promotion and live event that put 400 indie designers in competition to promote Ikea's annual wardrobe sale.

As to what inspires such a variety of unconventional approaches to marketing the brand, Larsson cites Ikea's "strong entrepreneurial tradition and a very strong company culture, based on a set of values. Some of those are daring to be different, being honest and constant desire for renewal. We have always had ambition to try new things, with the mindset that nothing is impossible, to overcome the obstacles we face when trying to develop our business."

How do you define creativity?
Thinking differently and having a lot of fun on the way.

What are you most inspired by?
To try new things and find new solutions on things you did not think of. Most of these things happen when you meet new people with a new angle on things.

What are your thoughts on risk-taking when it comes to marketing the brand?
Of course there are always risks, especially in the transparent media map of today. Working with The Ikea values as a base, and being committed to them, limits the risk of doing something totally wrong. For me The Ikea values helps me to judge what can be potentially right or wrong. One needs to feel them in the belly when judging solutions.

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