Tag: creative thinking

IKEA – Old fashioned advertising that is perfect for a digital world

Hello all, I’ve been away for a while and thought I’d ease myself back in with a nice simple creative commentary

It pains me to say it (having recently stopped working on IKEA’s business and so can’t take any reflected glory) but I’ve been really impressed with the work that IKEA have been doing recently in the UK, it feels like it has really started to click for them.

They seem to have found the holy grail of the perfect balance of rational and emotional in mass market broadcast advertising as well as finding a good reason to develop engaging content for active consumption online. They’ve created a properly integrated and multifaceted campaign and to do this they seem to have gone back to traditional advertising basics. I reckon that the Adcontrarian would love this.

This season they appear to be promoting their storage range. It is a product area that IKEA are rightly proud of as they truly innovate in this area and pretty much everybody has something of this ilk from IKEA, but the problem is it just isn’t “sexy” like a sofa or a kitchen. It is just stuff to put other stuff in. About a year ago they had great intentions to get people interested by trying to create a war of the sexes with a “who’s messier: Men or Women?” But although an admirable effort it just didn’t take off with their customers.

This year they have clearly gone back to the drawing board and I think they have delivered some stunning results.

Building on the success of their last two kitchens campaigns (Kitchen Parties and Playing with my Friends) Mother appear to have decided to commit to the “music video” format for the central strand of their TV campaign. As such, the first thing I saw was this beautiful advert posing as a music video that serenaded the benefits of having better storage solutions. They managed to take an incredibly rational and potentially dull topic and make it all about falling in love, the most emotionally engaging topic of all.

For all the developments in digital media, a powerful TV campaign is still the single most effective way of driving brand and product consideration, it is also the first part of a campaign that people are likely to see and so it is vital that you nail that element and I (and most people commenting on Youtube) think they have. They’ve managed to showcase loads of products and the benefits without feeling overly commercial. Tying it together at the end with “Make room for your Life” they have taken last year’s broad theme of “Happy Inside” and made it more clearly relevant to consumers’ needs.

If they’d stopped here I’d say it was already a definite improvement on last year, but they also understand the power of different media and have taken the same theme and brought it to life in different contexts to move people from just a nice warm fluffy feeling about IKEA’s storage solutions to a more definite understanding of how YOU can use it to improve YOUR life. They’ve avoided the temptation of taking a still from the TV creative and have presented real stories in a very simple but compelling press format that could have fallen straight out of the pages of “Ogilvy on Advertising”

Ikea - Expedit Shelving Unit_2842806

The scan from a newspaper doesn’t do it justice, but the strong visual, coupled with with simple straightforward copy that connects human passions with practical solutions is actually incredibly refreshing. But isn’t it weird that it is surprising and refreshing to see an ad which basically just follows the rules on what we’ve always been told makes a great ad – such as this one

volkswagen_lemon

What Mother have been able to do however that Bill Bernbach couldn’t is then help consumers really witness the true benefit of Expedit shelving to Harry – this press ad sends readers who are interested to watch the story of Harry’s Vinyl on ikea.co.uk – a lovely 4 minute “changing rooms” style piece of content that is focused on using storage to help people do more of what they love. It manages to be emotionally engaging, yet at the same time is completely commercial as every item used is tagged so that viewers can go look it up for themselves later.

There is an alternative for the girls which focuses on Jess’s trainer obsession/business and so allows them to showcase their bedroom furniture range as well.

I think that this is a really smart integration of traditional advertising and digital content that fully delivers against solid business objectives. I dearly hope that work this good helps to sell more IKEA furniture!

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Brainwriting – when a brainstorm is just too slow

Having worked on 20th Century Fox for the past 2 years I’ve run a huge amount of brainstorms. Last week I was set the challenge of running a 5 hour brainstorm in which I had to generate ideas for 5 different films (with 12 sub challenges). I just wanted to share some of the learnings from the session.

With 12 challenges in 5 hours, I had less than 25 mins for each question which was always going to be tough, so rather than run a standard “Stand at the front and write stuff down” session, I decided to use a brainwriting technique that I had adapted from one I read about online (see herefor details of the basic technique).

My Adaptation of the technique is focused on getting people to improve a build upon ideas in order to deliver workable detailed solutions rather than wooly fantasies. It is described in detail at the bottom for those who are interested – it is really quite simple – a bit like those games you played as a kid where a group of people had to write a story but you had to take it in turns to write a line.

I found that this approach was incredibly effective for the first half of the session. When it was working properly, we had 15 different people all creating or improving upon ideas all at the same time. Compared to a standard brainstorm when only one person can talk at any one time and only one person is writing, this was an incredibly efficient use of people’s time.

This technique also avoided any negative influences such as the dominant personalities that love the sound of their own voices or the recessive personalities who might have great ideas but don’t like to voice them. It also means that people don’t judge the ideas on issues of practicality, instead they are encourage to make the idea workable.

A Note of warning however, this technique worked really well when the group had compelling stimulus and some clear hooks on which to generate their ideas. For the later part of the session, we were all a bit stumped for ideas to solve the problem and so getting 15 people to work in isolation really didn’t help as people needed much more hand-holding. So make sure that you are comfortable that it is a rich source of ideas.

A Second watch out – Don’t try to answer 12 questions in 5 hours! We probably answered 6 effectively, 3 half heartedly and 3 not at all. A Shorter brainstorm with fewer challenges would have been a much more efficient use of people’s time.

The Technique

1) THE TASK Set out the key problem as defined with the client
2) EXPLODE THE TASK: Take one attribute of the problem and as a group “explode” it. So if the problem is “How do we make this feel like a premium experience” then to “explode” it you should ask a question like “How do other categories create premiumization within their portfolios” or ” what is it about the current experience that feels less than premium”. Basically you need to get the group to start to think laterally about the idea.

3) A FIRST APPROACH: Keeping the results of stage (2) on the wall/flipchart then you can start the Brainwriting stage. Hand out a piece of paper to each person. Then give them 1-2 minutes MAX to write down just ONE good idea to address the TASK.

4) The ANGLE: Once stage 3) is finished get them to pass the idea to the person to the right of them and allow them to read the idea they have received. Then go back to the results of stage (2) and pull out an example of a brand or a category that excels in solving the problem that you have. Spend a few minutes discussing how that brand/category works and then ask the question “How would X improve the idea that you have in front of you”. Then give the group another 2 minutes MAX to improve and build upon the idea that they now have in front of them. It is important that they do not try to create new ideas at this stage, but focus on making the idea in front of them better, whilst focusing on the angle that you have selected.

Repeat stage (4) upto 2 or 3 times each time passing the idea along and introducing a new angle.

5) Go round the table getting people to summarise the idea and developments. You will find that you have a surprisingly high number of well worked through and imaginative ideas. This is also the opportunity for the group to build on the ideas that they hear.

Finally – ensure you have some kind of filtering process in place to whittle down the ideas to the best ones. I’ll talk about this again in the future, but it is vital