This Ikea campaign is ad veteran K V Sridhar's favourite: Know why

Topics IKEA | Ikea campaign | advertising

Table Lamp
Which is your favourite campaign and why?

My favourite campaign is one of Ikea, the Ikea Lamp done in 2007. It was one of the Cannes winners and contender for the Grand Prix that year. It is a campaign that makes you emotionally high. It is a simple story: Someone junks an old table lamp in the garbage bin outside. The lamp sits beside the garbage bin outside the house. It starts raining and gets dark. The lampshade is pointed downwards, and you start feeling bad for it. It is very natural for us to get attached to something (an object) that we have used for so long. Because of this emotional attachment we never junk something which is old. At the same time, we cannot use them because they are not functional anymore. When you start feeling very bad for this lamp, the shot cuts back to the window of the house and you see a new modern looking lamp on the table. A man comes and talks to the camera — he says that while you may be feeling bad, this lamp has no feelings and no life. The ad ends with a line that shows that a new collection is available at Ikea. 

On what parameters did you base your decision?

The commercial was so beautifully done that it makes you cry and also makes you laugh in the end. It is also a master-class in film-making and craft. It is a great idea that is brilliantly executed and single-mindedly focused on a new collection at Ikea. It was done in 2007 and now we are almost into 2020, but if you run that commercial now also it will connect with you. The first thing that you see (in a commercial) is, there's an idea, there is insight; it is relevant and well-crafted. Relevance, craft, idea and insight — these are the four parameters on which I based my decision. 

What do you think was the key idea the campaign was trying to drive home?

The idea is the insight itself. Unless we junk old furniture we cannot get new ones. That is the logical one; the emotional insight is once something stays with us for a long time, we get emotionally attached to it, even if it is lifeless. Everyone has their favourite shoes, shirt and you don't want to throw them, unless you are pushed. Same with old furniture. The way the story was told almost makes you cry. The story could not have been told with a table or a chair. Because the lamp has its own flexible arm, the shade which actually goes down — the entire semiotics of that is brilliant. There is not even one frame without the lamp in the commercial. We see the product for 40 seconds only but you still feel like crying. 

K V Sridhar, founder & chief creative officer, Hyper Collective; member, board of ASCI
With the emotional element in a campaign so high is there a chance the brand name will be overshadowed and forgotten?

There are two things — one can ask people to buy me (a product) or one can tell a beautiful story and create a desire in me to buy. At the end of the day, good advertising is about the art of persuasion — with rational messages you cannot persuade anymore. This lamp for Rs 299 — the messaging becomes very transactional. That's all retail advertising in the country is doing now. Once the emotional message is driven home, you don;t mind whether it is Rs 299 or Rs 2,999. That's the reason some brands command a premium — because of the emotional affinity with the customer. They become objects of desire. You want to buy them because of the connect. Second, the aesthetics. Sometimes there is no utility, but you still want to buy because it looks great. The packaging design is so great that you want to buy a shampoo, you don't even know what the ingredients are. That's the job of good advertising. The problem with transactional messaging is that someone offers a better discount or offer, and you shift there. 

What are your takeaways from the campaign?

The biggest takeaway is story-telling: Once you get an insight how do you write a good story around that. The creator had the power to have a conversation with you in every frame. The creator wants you to feel sad about this lamp, then feel jealous about the new lamp and then when the person comes and talks to you, you again realise how true. You don't ask people to buy a product, but you carry people along with you. The inspiration I drew was how to build those knots in a story to be able to tell a story beautifully. Brands are lifeless but every brand has a tone of voice. You are putting life into them and then manipulating them. 

What else could have been done to make the campaign better?

It's a ten on ten. There is no scope for making it any better. It is perfect.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel