Marketing Critique: IKEA Press Ad


This ad from IKEA appeared on the Straits Times, Wed 19 Apr 2017.

IKEA is a brand and company that we love. We love their well-designed furniture, their pocket-friendly prices and of course, we absolutely love those drool-inducing chicken wings!

Other than their furniture and food, we also love how IKEA has in the past, come up with some really superb marketing campaigns. Remember the “bookbook” campaign? This was a campaign of sheer genius.

“It’s not a digital book or an e-book,” said Jörgen Eghammer, IKEA’s “Chief Design Güru.” He says plainly, “It’s a bookbook.” The video was so successfully viral that it’s received a whopping 18 million views on YouTube! So IKEA is clearly a company that knows all about good marketing.

However, from such dizzying heights of marketing success, we were left astounded by their latest marketing campaign. But first, let’s discuss the positives.




The ad scores points for it’s size. By paying more to get a full-page ad and one on the premium right hand page, the ad definitely succeeds in getting our attention.

The one strong image (as opposed to some ads where they try to cram in as many images as possible) also works very well in catching the eye. Choice of image is also excellent.

Colour scheme, font choice, logo placement, branding, look and feel are all perfectly executed and on point.

IKEA also did well in keeping body copy to a minimum so the ad is not the least bit cluttered.

All in all, lots of positives.



So with so many positives, just where did IKEA fall short?

The answer lies with the mechanics of the marketing promo. The headline says, “Can’t decide if you like our mattresses? Sleep on it for 100 days”. The small print then says that you can exchange the mattress within 100 days as part of their fuss-free return policy.

At first glance, you could say that this is a great show of the confidence that IKEA has with their products, that they will be willing to let you exchange a mattress if you don’t like it.

But hold on a second… That raises a key question in the consumer’s mind. What happens to the mattresses that are sent back to IKEA? If there are 1 or 2 returned mattresses, I’m sure that’s something that wouldn’t be an issue for IKEA. But what if there were 100 returned mattresses? Or 200 or 500? What would IKEA do with all these returned mattresses?

The conclusion that may jump into the consumer’s mind could be, will IKEA then sell these returned mattresses again? If you were a prospective customer, would you worry about this?

Whether IKEA resells returned mattresses or not is irrelevant. Because after the consumer has seen this ad, the damage is already done. The seed of fear and doubt has already been planted in the mind of the consumer. They may wonder, “How do I know if the mattress that I buy from IKEA, the one where I have ‘100 days to sleep on’, will be brand new?”

We can safely say that cleanliness in something all Asians value and this is especially so for Singaporeans. For the same price, we would rather buy a brand new mattress of lower quality than a used one that’s of a higher quality. We don’t want to sleep on a mattress that’s used, certainly not one that someone else has slept on for 100 days!

And now, the damage is not just with the consumer’s perception of IKEA’s mattresses. The consumer may now start to wonder if other items they buy at IKEA are returned goods.

Quite frankly, we believe in the IKEA brand so much that we personally don’t think that IKEA would repackage and resell these returned mattresses. But clearly, the mechanics of this marketing promo is flawed. Rather than inspire brand confidence, it only serves to create fear and doubt.


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