Ikea has long endeavored to puncture the overly manicured veneer of consumer advertising. A good example was the “Where Life Happens” campaign, launched in 2016 by Swedish agency Åkestam Holst, which explored topics that were unusual for advertising—such as divorce, teenage angst, adoption and single parenting.
A similar spirit is at play in Ikea Norway’s latest campaign. Three new spots start out in what look like pristine home environments, except soon we see life memorably—and at times grossly—intervene.
In the first spot below, we get a tableau at the end that’s pretty surreal coming from a major brand. The tagline is, “Life is not an Ikea catalog.”
It’s rare to see full-on barfing in a commercial. Detractors will say it’s unnecessarily gross and off-putting to viewers; on the other hand, it’s relatable because it shows an understanding of life beyond the invented perfection of marketing. (A similar—if more sentimental—undercutting of traditional marketing was at work in Ikea’s “Proudly Second Best” campaign earlier this year, made by David Madrid and Ingo Hamburg.)
In a second spot, a dog has little regard for its owner’s clean Ikea carpet. (Good thing this one is machine washable. Which by the way is the message behind all the executions—that the products are easily cleaned. You can see this in more detail on the campaign’s landing page.)
As many of you will recall, this actually isn’t Ikea’s first pee-themed ad.
A final spot goes all in with a scenario where parents arrive home from what looks like a night away. The house’s entryway is clean, but things go downhill pretty quickly from there. (Bonus points for the second kid’s reaction to seeing the parents arriving.)
“Ikea products are made to let you handle the everyday because we believe that both furniture and your home are meant to be used,” said Annika Mørch Asté, head of marketing communications at Ikea Norway. “Sure, it’s a bit rough to see our products on TV covered in vomit and dog pee. But life isn’t always neat and tidy, so we think it’s great that the campaign can reflect just that.”
“With this campaign, we wanted to showcase the more honest sides of life at home and how our products are designed to withstand daily life,” added Celin Kjenslie, country marketing manager at Ikea Norway. “Good design does more than just look great in a catalog.”