Ikea’s Billy bookcases, Poang chairs and Kallax shelves can be seen in real homes around the world, but they now have a place in the fictional living rooms of “The Simpsons,” “Stranger Things” and “Friends.”
In the "Real Life Series" campaign running in the United Arab Emirates, Ikea, along with agency Publicis Spain, recreated iconic living rooms from each of the popular shows with only its own products. The campaign leverages the pop culture references with the aim to be relevant to all cultures, since the UAE is largely populated by expat families from all over the globe.
The production was an arduous, months-long process during which the Ikea and agency teams worked together, sifting through thousands of items from the Ikea catalog and site that would work as stand-ins. A Knislinge sofa for example, serves as the centerpiece of The Simpsons abode, a Lack coffee table looks just like the one in Monica Geller's apartment and there are Billy bookcases lining the wall of the Byer family's home.
According to Eduardo Marques, CCO of Publicis/PublicisEmil/Wysiwyg/Nurun, the biggest challenge, however, was choosing which living rooms to recreate. They had to represent the whole spectrum of entertainment, yet be iconic. “We had a list of 60, so deciding these three was quite a hard decision to make.”
The production itself shed light on the breadth of Ikea’s products, he says. “The curious thing [we discovered] is that, actually, you can really find anything at at Ikea. Every object we needed to replace, we had more than three options at Ikea to use. So, the hard work was to select from all these options we had.” (See detailed images of all the products that went to each ad below.)
“It was a great collaborative effort that lead up to a stunning result,” said Vinod Jayan, managing director of Ikea UAE, Qatar, Egypt and Oman in a statement. “A true testament of what Ikea represents: a place where everyone can bring whatever idea they see or have to life."
The campaign will be running in print ads, online on a dedicated page, on social media and in catalogs. There will also be a live event in the Middle East recreating all the rooms so that customers can experience them in real life.
According to Marques, the creative team worked so hard with the client researching for the campaign that the agency and Ikea made them part of it: “We decided to give them their hours back, converted into some nice Easter Eggs—pictures of when they were young are in one of the ads.”