IKEA Canada dances around its sustainability efforts

Who: IKEA Canada with Rethink, Scouts Honour for production, Saints Editorial, alter ego, The Vanity and Grayson Music Group. Media by Carat.

What: “Scrap du Soleil,” a new spot that continues the retailer’s communications strategy around sustainability, which has already produced work including “Lamp 2,” and “Stuff Monster,” as well as the more recent “One Little Thing.”

When & Where: The campaign broke today across TV, out-of-home and social, and runs through the end of November.

Why: It’s continuing to reinforce IKEA’s efforts around sustainability, part of its commitment to becoming a circular business by 2030. The kitchen might be at the heart of many houses, but IKEA says it’s also the most wasteful room—not just because of food waste, but also because people are generally not conscious about how they use water and electricity.

“We believe it’s critical to keep sustainability at the top of the agenda,” says IKEA’s head of marketing, Johanna Andrén. “As one of Canada’s largest home furnishing retailers… we believe we have a responsibility, both in [the products] we produce and inspiring people to make small little changes.”

How: Andrén calls the spot a mix between a brand and an activation spot, with a focus on one of IKEA’s core pillars: the kitchen. Set to a piece of music from the 1875 opera Carmen, the dialogue-free spot focuses on a man and woman preparing dinner from leftovers (stored in IKEA containers, of course) while engaged in a sensuous and increasingly elaborate dance that at one point sees them take to the air with some Matrix-worthy wire work.

While the spot features several IKEA products, including energy-efficient appliances and water-saving taps, it specifically calls out its “Kungsbacka” cabinets, which are made from recycled wood and covered with a plastic foil made from recycled PET bottles.

Why dancing? According to IKEA, the ad is meant to show how cooking sustainably doesn’t have to be complicated. “[I]t can be beautifully, gracefully simple.”

IKEA is always focused on making the mundane daily tasks of life “:a little more efficient, a little more beautiful, and a lot less wasteful,” said Joel Holtby, creative director and partner at Rethink. “What better way to visualize that feeling than with a dance where every movement is part of a more graceful, purposeful whole?”

Andren says the music was “crucial” to the spot, with IKEA testing several soundtracks before arriving at the final version. “We wanted to find the friction between classical music and modern dance, and when we tried it out, Carmen fit so perfectly with the feeling we wanted to create,” she says.

Choreography for the spot was done by Montreal’s Lydia Bouchard, who comes from the world of classical dance and has spent the past 10 years as artistic director with Cirque du Soleil and served as a judge on the TVA show Revolution since 2018.

And one other little thing: The new work comes on the heels of “One Little Thing,” which debuted just last week. Presented as a single shot, the spot—developed by Rethink, but shot in Sweden by Adam Berg—is also tied to IKEA’s sustainability efforts, showing people engaging in simple but effective acts that contribute to the environment, such as using LED lights bulbs or air-drying laundry (see it below).

“I’m not super afraid of cannibalization because they are directed towards different target groups,” says Andrén of having two different spots in market simultaneously. “One Little Thing” is more brand-focused, she says, “Scrap du Soleil” is specifically focusing on its kitchen products.

A truly global approach: Rather than developing original creative for each of the 28 markets in which it operates, IKEA has developed seven marketing clusters. While the kitchen work is currently exclusive to Canada, the “One Little Thing” campaign is appearing in Australia, Serbia, Romania and Croatia.


Chris Powell