IKEA gets graphic about real life in controversial videos
September 22, 2023 | 8:06 am CDT
IKEA party aftermath

A disastrous party aftermath is just one of three controversial IKEA ad videos that the company says brings real life into the pristine Scandinavian furnishing designs that made their products famous.

OSLO, Norway — IKEA is famous for their Scandinavian design, economical home furnishing solutions, but now they are making waves in Norway with a controversial ad campaign that boldly admits, “Life is not an IKEA catalogue.”

With three video commercials to date, the campaign brings real life to the IKEA lifestyle with cleaning up the aftermath of a raucous party, a pet peeing on the furnishings, and most controversial, a sick mother vomiting on a couch as her toddler plays on the other side of the room.

Each of the videos begin with classic IKEA style and pleasant music as onscreen type identifies IKEA products and prices. Then the view dramatically changes as real life invades the setting. Then the onscreen type highlights IKEA features for real life, such as replacement parts, washable products, or protective furniture covers.

One of the films, showing a mom violently throwing up whilst trying to play with her toddler, has caused a stir in Norway. Where some find the film a bit gross and disturbing, IKEA claims most viewers were positively engaged and praised the film for showing a relatable side of a not so perfect life. 

IKEA's Head of Marketing Communication, Annika Mørch Asté, is not afraid of showing their furniture in a more brutally honest light. 

"IKEA products are made to let you handle the everyday, because we believe that both furniture and your home are meant to be used. Sure, it's a bit rough to see our products on TV covered in vomit and dog pee," Annika says. "But life isn't always neat and tidy, so we think it's great that the campaign can reflect just that."

"With this campaign, we wanted to showcase the more honest sides of life at home and how our products are designed to withstand daily life,” said Celin Kjenslie, Country Marketing Manager at IKEA Norway. “Good design does more than just look great in a catalogue."

The campaign is currently live in Norway, with three separate videos: Party: https://youtu.be/6b1oJzXeu5c, Pee: https://youtu.be/9drwyBOGRWI and Puke: https://youtu.be/r6h3mCx6Uwk

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William Sampson

William Sampson is a lifelong woodworker, and he has been an advocate for small-scale entrepreneurs and lean manufacturing since the 1980s. He was the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine in the early 1990s and founded WoodshopBusiness magazine, which he eventually sold and merged with CabinetMaker magazine. He helped found the Cabinet Makers Association in 1998 and was its first executive director. Today, as editorial director of Woodworking Network and FDMC magazine he has more than 20 years experience covering the professional woodworking industry. His popular "In the Shop" tool reviews and videos appear monthly in FDMC.