If there’s one thing we love, it’s a good story based on human emotions.
In the sentence above, the word “we” doesn’t just refer to us at Kleber & Associates. It refers to all of us as human beings. Real, emotional stories are what tie us together, help us understand each other, and what make us human.
So when we saw IKEA’s ad featuring a real father & daughter, we couldn’t help but love it.
The ad features a father and a teenage daughter. The daughter, as teenagers often do, is clearly going through a tough time. Day after day, she comes home angry, sad, frustrated, and overwhelmed by what life is throwing at her.
Every day, her patient father waits for her, offering his help. His advice. His wisdom gained from similar experiences. His shoulder to cry on.
Every day, as teenagers are known to demonstrate, his daughter pushes him away, isolates herself in her room or other places he’s not. Rejecting his help, she chooses to try to cope on her own, however unsuccessfully.
Until one day, when she’s ready, she relents and lets her dad in. Figuratively, into her heart, and literally, into her room. When she opens the door, he’s waiting, patiently, sitting on an IKEA stool.
This description may not give proper justice to the heart-wrenching beauty of the ad. You need to see it for yourself.
Why do we love this ad? Let us count the ways.
The ad is one of a series of ads from IKEA that are based on the stories of real families. Real life isn’t always sunshine and roses. People don’t always glide about their homes, deliriously happy because of the furniture they have. This ad removes that varnish and pretense, keeping the audience’s bullsh*t detector at zero. That makes the ad memorable and irresistible.
When we talk about storytelling, the best ones are not always fantastical adventures. They’re about common, everyday things that happen to common people (see above). The IKEA ad holds up a mirror and shows us a story we can all relate to. That allows us to form a connection with the brand, because we feel like they understand us.
As a side note, if you’ve never seen this ad before, you probably don’t live in Sweden, the market for which it was intended. The sparse dialog in the ad is subtitled — but even if it weren’t, even if you watched the ad with the sound off — you’d get the full impact. That shows how truly universal the story is.
The Product is in Context
Since the dawn of advertising, consumers have been told that Brand X and Product A are going to solve all of their problems, and they’ll be healthy, happy and rich, so hurry out and buy now! Consumers got wise to that approach years ago, and advertisers are now catching up.
IKEA knows that real life happens and that, usually, their products are not the most important things in people’s lives.
But by connecting with consumers on an emotional level, and showing them that they “get” what they’re going through, they are setting themselves apart.
And it seems to be working. IKEA just reported a 20 percent increase in net income for fiscal year 2016. Certainly that’s not because of one ad, but it can be attributed to the company’s commitment to providing a great customer experience at every touch point, which includes advertising.
With our hats off in artistic and marketing strategy appreciation, we proudly bestow upon IKEA the award of Kleber Ad of the Year for 2016. Sadly, we have no trophy to offer — but if they want — we’ll ship them the parts and they can assemble it themselves.
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