McCann Erickson's Take on Ikea Catalog Aims to Make it Relevant All Year

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Ikea catalog fans are a pretty finicky bunch. The last time the furniture retailer made what some might consider a slight "tweak" to the 61-year-old tome (After 50 years of use, in 2009 it changed its iconic Futura typeface to the more computer-friendly Verdana), consumers went ballistic.

Now, it makes an even more ambitious leap with McCann Erickson's makeover of the 211-million circulation pub. In August, the retailer tapped the agency to revamp the famous printed showroom and yesterday debuted a video introducing "A New Kind of Catalogue." It highlights an accompanying digital offering that promises to make its pages "come alive" via an app introducing a variety of extended content.

The retailer presented McCann with a very basic brief asking the agency to breathe new life into the catalog, "basically one page talking about the fact that the catalog needs a vitamin pill," said Ikea Head of Global Communications Lena Simonsson Berge. "It was quite open, but one prerequisite was that we wanted to keep the printed catalog as a base. Many other companies would have started this exercise by doing a deep study on how much more efficient this could be totally online vs. paper but, typical Ikea, we like to do things a bit backwards. We believe in something, and we go from there and see what we could do about it."

According to McCann Vice Chairman/Global Deputy Chief Creative Officer Andreas Dahlqvist, a key goal was to extend the life of the catalog in consumers' homes. Its average lifespan is about two weeks, but with the digital offerings, content can be added and updated on a regular basis, making the catalog relevant year-round. The print pages tease the additional materials that include inspirational videos, designer stories and even an X-ray vision function that lets readers see behind cabinet doors. A smartphone icon shows shoppers when to scan to see more. The app uses image recognition software from Metaio and not QR codes, which makes it convenient to add further content to other pages in the future. With those, viewers may be alerted to new content via billboard callouts, for example, said McCann Associate Creative Director Koen Malfait.

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