Ikea let customers pay with their time instead of currency

For a new store opening in Dubai, shoppers could turn their travel minutes into money

Published On
Feb 25, 2020

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A common features of Ikea’s enormous stores is they’re usually located on the outskirts of city centers and can take a while to travel to. For the opening of the Swedish retailer’s new outpost in Jebel Ali, a large commercial port located on the harbor of Dubai, the brand wanted to encourage shoppers to journey to the new store by allowing them to use the time it took for them to get there as currency.

Dubbed “Buy With Your Time,” the offer launched around the opening of the store on December 18. Shoppers showed cashiers their Google Maps timelines to prove how long it took them to travel to the store, and then they could choose to purchase items with that time or part of it.

Every item at the new store was priced in “time currency.” The price of an hour was based on the average working wage in Dubai, where one hour is AED 105 (roughly $29). A shopper could buy the Ikea Billy Bookcase for 1 hour and 51 minutes, the Ikea Lack Table for 49 minutes or even a veggie hot dog for five minutes. Some items cost combined trips to Ikea, such as the Hattefjäll chair, priced at a steep nine hours and 25 minutes.

Shoppers could apply their travel time from past trips to their purchases as well. On average, people spent an hour and 30 minutes traveling to the new store, according to the agency.


The Swedish retailer worked with Memac Ogilvy, the same agency behind KFC’s recent campaign that used musicians to sneak onto Spotify Premium. The agency also created a video Ikea used to explain the concept behind the idea to the new store’s visitors. “They say time is money," it says. "And for once, that was true.”

The idea was conceived by Memac Ogilvy’s Art Director Nicolás Lopez and Copywriter Fernando Montero González when they moved from Ogilvy Madrid and had to furnish their new homes by visiting Ikea, which took them a while to travel to. They checked their combined trips to Ikea in Google Maps and the total came out to five hours and 30 minutes. “This is when we thought, could Ikea do something out of this?” the duo said in a statement.


Feb 25, 2020
Client :
Agency :
MEMAC Ogilvy-Dubai
Juggi Ramakrishnan
Group CD :
Youssef Gadallah
Creative Team :
Nicolás López
Creative Team :
Fernando Montero
Client Team Leader :
Hadi Ballout
Head of Production :
Amin Soltani
Junior Producer :
Ann Vaas
Account Director :
Preeti Hothi
Account Manager :
Alaa Nour
Creative Director :
Karim Sherif
PR Team :
Saad Abu Touq
PR Team :
Saintana Saad
Production House :
Goldmine Films
Executive Producer :
Madhup Agarwal
Director of Photography :
Miraj Mohamed
Producer :
Shaharbano Zaidi
Production Assistant :
Sara Abdullah
Production Assistant :
Armela Atun
Production Assistant :
Mahesh Pottavathini
Administration & Accounts :
Dona Vaas
GM Marketing, Communication & Interior Design :
Carla Klumpenaar
Regional Communication Manager :
Amer Yaghi
Regional Digital Marketing Specialist :
Noha Gheith
PR and Communications Specialist :
Benita Chowdhury

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