IKEA introduces a ‘monster’ ad promoting its sustainability efforts

Who: IKEA, Rethink, Scouts Honour (production), A52 (VFX), Rooster Post, directed by Mark Zibert.

What: An effects-laden new ad called “Stuff Monster,” promoting the furniture retailer’s continued efforts around its People and Planet Positive sustainability strategy. The program is committed to helping 1 billion people around the world live a better everyday life within the planet’s means by 2030.

When & Where: The campaign breaks today (Sept. 19) and runs until the end of October. It includes TV and out-of-home.

Why: Long known as a destination for cheap, cheerful and disposable items with sometimes tough-to-pronounce names, the retail giant has leaned hard into the concept of sustainability and recycling, beginning with last year’s Lamp 2 ad.

Customer surveys revealed that people are increasingly “overwhelmed” by their stuff, and seeking ways to rid their homes of things that no longer bring them joy (thanks Marie Kondo).

The retailer says it is committed to becoming a fully “circular business” by 2030.

What’s a “circular business”? Designing products with re-use, repurposing and recycling in mind; using only renewable, recycled and recyclable materials, and eliminating waste.

IKEA has also introduced programs such as Sell-Back, which enables customers to sell their gently used products back to IKEA in exchange for store credit, with IKEA giving the products a second life through resale or donation. The program has generated more than 23,000 customer submissions since its debut.

IKEA Canada also phased out plastic straws in May, has committed to phasing out all single-use plastics by 2020, and is committed to achieving zero-emission home delivery by 2025.

How: The ad follows the “Stuff Monster,” a creation made up of IKEA couches, cabinets, chairs, etc. as it walks through a neighbourhood dropping off gently used items that are picked up by grateful people. There’s no dialogue—instead the ad is soundtracked by the 1970 Cat Stevens song “Tea for the Tillerman.”

The Stuff Monster is a metaphor for the possessions that weigh people down, says Rethink’s partner and creative director, Joel Holtby.

“It was really important for us to create a character that the viewer could empathize and connect with,” he says. “The feeling of being weighed down and then the simple joy of seeing the very things weighing you down bringing happiness to someone else.”

The agency worked with IKEA to obtain digital files of historical items and some of the retailer’s beloved pieces. Months in the making, the Stuff Monster includes a used EKTORP sofa, POANG chairs, RANARP lamps, a TROFAST Storage unit and a BUSA kids play item.

The monster becomes lighter and happier as its sees its belongings being given new life, before finally revealing the human behind the monster when a woman sets out the last of her old furniture, accompanied by a “free” sign. The super reads “what’s old can be new again.”

Quote: “We wanted to created a character that people would love, want to champion through the story, and see a part of themselves in,” says Holtby. “The biggest challenge was finding a way to communicate emotion through inanimate objects. PIXAR makes it look easier than it is.”


—With files from David Brown








Chris Powell