IKEA shows how it can make holiday get-togethers less stressful

Who: IKEA, with Rethink for strategy and creative; Steam Films for production (directed by Rachel Morrison); Nimiopere for editorial; Berkeley for sound; Carat for media.

What: “Take a Holiday From the Holidays,” a new holiday campaign (as you likely surmised) which presents IKEA-furnished rooms as a perfect escape from all of the holiday hubbub.

When & Where: The campaign debuts today (Nov. 13), running through Dec. 24 across TV, cinema, OOH, digital and social.

Why: Oh sure, they’re the most wonderful time of the year. But the holidays can also sometimes be a LOT, particularly when your home is ground zero for large get-togethers.

IKEA Canada’s head of marketing, Jonelle Ricketts, said that the campaign objectives are in line with typical goals: build top of mind awareness, brand desire, and increase penetration. “Visitation to our stores and online is also a bonus,” she said.

But outside of typical KPIs, the brand wanted to demonstrate that it truly understands how Canadians feel at a stressful time of year, and show how it can play a role in making the holidays a little easier. “We also hope this campaign brings a smile to your face and creates conversation about this universal insight,” she said.

Another consideration was cutting through the clutter of holiday ads, which tend to be characterized by jingle bells and lots of smiling, happy people. “The more we shared this idea, the more we realized how universal this feeling [of needing to escape] was, so we knew we were on to something.”

How: The campaign’s 60-second anchor spot shows people taking a much-needed moment for themselves in the midst of all the holiday cheer.

There’s a woman resting on the side of a bathtub, taking off her shoes and running her bare feet through a fluffy Almtjärn bath mat, a man resting on a Hemnes bed covered with guests’ coats, and a man in a Santa suit taking shelter in his garage, where he sits on a Dalfred stool.

Those items were selected because they show how IKEA can help characters take a break from the holidays, said Ricketts. “For example, we’ve all experienced the sense of relief from taking off uncomfortable shoes, and can imagine how good it would feel to wiggle our toes against a fluffy IKEA bathmat.”

The products were also chosen because they’re affordable, at a time when Canadians are worried about money.

The marketing team had “a lot of conversations” about the joys and stresses of the holiday season during the campaign’s early planning stages, said Ricketts. “We know IKEA plays an important role in bringing your home to life… so we wanted to show how it can be part of those little stolen moments throughout the holiday season.”

About that song: Tiffany’s version of “I Think We’re Alone Now,” a number one hit in 1987, was Rethink’s suggestion for the English language campaign all along.

“Right from the beginning, we all fell in love with it, especially those of us who grew up singing along to this song on the radio back in the day,” said Ricketts. “We didn’t want to make a final decision until much later in the creative development process, but as the creative came and we considered other options, this felt right and captured the feeling we wanted.”

IKEA selected the song’s French-language equivalent “Enfin seul ensemble” by Les Sceptres for the Quebec campaign. “We did however explore a few alternatives for the French version, as we wanted to ensure we found a song with the same sentiment, while still being relevant to the Quebec market,” said Ricketts.

And we quote: This year’s holiday campaign is all about showing how IKEA can help create those spaces within any home that are perfect for taking a little breather from the mayhem of the holiday season.” — Jonelle Ricketts, head of marketing, IKEA Canada

Chris Powell