Visit Sweden wants you to explore the real places behind Ikea product names

Campaign by Forsman & Bodenfors humorously spotlights destinations such as Ektorp and Bolmen

Published On
Nov 30, 2021

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Connoissieurs of Ikea furnishings will definitely know what an Ektorp sofa is, or a Bolmen toilet brush. But how many people know that these are the names of real places in Sweden?

That's the premise of a new campaign from the Swedish tourist board, Visit Sweden, that puts the spotlight on the real-life destinations behind some of Ikea's famous product names. The country is leaning into the fame of its most famous retail export, starting with a tongue-in-cheek film by agency Forsman & Bodenfors.

In it, a serious Swedish frontwoman somewhat indignantly explains that, for example, the real place behind the Bolmen brush is a beautiful lake -- so it seems a shame that everyone associates it with dirty toilets. It goes on to contrast some of the products Ikea made famous and the places behind them -- pointing out, for example, that if you search online for Järvfjället, named after a snowy area of Lapland offering hiking and cross country skiing, "all you get is a bunch of gaming chairs." The film ends by exhorting viewers to "forget about Ikea and discover the originals." 

The campaign is running in the U.S., U.K., Northern Ireland, Germany and France. In addition to the introductory film, it will focus on 21 destinations all named after Ikea products, with each place running its own activity; for example, Bolmen (which, fact fans, is near to where Ikea's late founder Ingvar Kamprad grew up) will market itself with the slogan, "More than just a toilet brush."

Other destinations include Skärhamn, on the island of Tjörn, where visitors can enjoy freshly-caught seafood and experience international art; at Ikea, it’s a door handle. There’s also Kallax in Norrbotten,  known as an Ikea storage unit, where visitors can cruise between thousands of small islands during summer nights, and lake Toftan in Dalarna, where art lovers can paddle a canoe on a lake, but which at Ikea is a trash can. 

“In Sweden, we are proud of Ikea and in a way you can say that they helped us make Swedish places world-famous through the names they borrowed for their products,” said Nils Persson, chief marketing officer, Visit Sweden, in a statement.  ”Now we want, with warmth and a twinkle in our eye, to show the originals behind the product names and invite the world to discover the whole of Sweden.”