McCann Picks Up Another Slice of Ikea's Global Creative Account

Retailer Wants to Create a 'More Joyful' Shopping Experience Online

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Ikea is expanding its relationship with McCann, New York, now tasking the agency to overhaul the retailer's website.

Earlier this year the Swedish maker of furniture and home decor tapped McCann to reimagine Ikea's catalog. Lena Simonsson Berge, head of global communications at Ikea, told Ad Age that the two new assignments the agency has been given are reflective of Ikea's desire to refresh its brand globally. She added that the company realized that it could use some more outside marketing help.

Credit: AP

"We feel this a good time for some renovation, renewal, when it comes to our big global media -- which is the catalog we produce and the website," Ms. Simonsson Berge said. "What we believe we need to do is some renovation...We have an in-house agency, we call them Ikea Communiations or ICom, and they are the main supplier for the communications we do. We felt that we needed another external complement to ICom."

The retailer's site is slated for some big changes. "We have in our tradition and in our blood how to create a three-dimensional shopping experience in store, and I feel we are still exploring how to find our identity and tell the Ikea story on the web," said Ms. Simonsson Berge. "It's not just to fix functionalities and technical requirements. It's very much also to build the brand in a stronger way."

The previous site was created by Interpublic Group of Cos.' Huge , which continues to work with Ikea. Ms. Simonsson-Berge stressed that McCann is not replacing Huge , since the marketer has never had global agencies of record before. The very first Ikea website was developed by another Interpublic agency, Deutsch, back in the late '90s. Ikea has asked McCann to deliver a prototype of a new website by spring.

It seems unusual that Ikea would choose a creative agency to overhaul its web presence, vs. a pure-play digital agency, but the marketer said it's a better fit. "I don't perceive McCann as being very traditional even though they have a traditional network setup," Ms. Simonsson-Berge said. "Why choose an agency that is more traditional or more into communication vs. technology? That's actually what we need. What we want to create is a better, more joyful shopping experience." She added "The main reason we have chosen to work with McCann in both cases is more about the people than the McCann network. We feel there is a good fit when it comes to the values of the people we work with at McCann, and that is so important at Ikea because Ikea has such a strong culture."

Asked whether Ikea has taken to McCann because of senior creative -- and Swede -- Linus Karlsson, she said: "Competence and personality in this case comes before nationality. It's a bonus that he's Swedish, I would say."

Ikea spends an estimated $300 million per year, so securing some pieces of that global marketing budget is helpful to McCann at a time when it's seen turbulence on some global accounts. It recently lost some Nescafe business, and last week it lost a major chunk of its global Exxon business to Omnicom Group's BBDO, though its sibling shop Universal McCann won consolidated media duties. It also is currently waiting to hear a decision on a global pitch for Lufthansa's business, which has been handled by McCann out of Germany.

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