Through New Year's, we will be counting down our picks for 2021's 30 best ads and creative marketing ideas.
At No. 9: In recent years, Ikea has made sustainability a cornerstone of its marketing, but this campaign from Norway's Try Oslo promoting the brand's recycling program was particularly standout, featuring unusually unglamorous product ads to highlight the idea that discarded furniture might be worth a second look.
Broken "Billy" bookcases dumped in a garbage tip. A "Franklin" stool leaning against a dumpster. "Hemnes" tables abandoned near a railway line. These are all images from Ikea's latest spot, showing items of its furniture not looking their best, but forlorn and trashed, thrown out by their former owners.
See the full list of 2021's Best Ads.
It's an unusual approach for a retailer, but the film, by Norwegian agency Try Oslo, promotes Ikea's new recycling project, in which it's encouraging people to resell their secondhand Ikea items. The spot was directed by Kavar Singh and Niels Windfeldt via production company Aparent and is running on TV and in cinemas in Norway. The dumped items also appear in a series of print ads, seen below, which also include prices and copy on how they've been readied for sale. For example, one reads, "Just needed a good clean."
The campaign focuses in particular on promoting two services: the fact that Ikea will now buy back furniture you no longer need, and that you can order spare parts for free online and have them delivered to your mailbox. Both aim to get Norwegians throwing away fewer furniture items.
"Too much of our furniture ends up in the trash, and with this campaign we wanted to show how it doesn’t need to," said Tobias Lien, marketing communications manager at Ikea in Norway, in a statement. "Often, the products are just fine or maybe they just need a few small spare parts. To show how little it takes, we have therefore collected some of them and given them a second chance at Ikea."
Ikea's sustainability push started as a Black Friday campaign by Edelman U.K. back in 2020, and is now rolling out internationally. It's becoming a permanent service in some markets, including in Norway.
"An important part of our responsibility is to launch new services that help our customers throw away less," added Ikea Marketing Manager Frode Skage Ullebust. "I must admit that it hurts a little to see our furniture presented in this way, but at the same time I think it has become a very honest and beautiful way to get people to reflect."