Client: IKEA Canada
Agency: Leo Burnett
Campaign Period: June 2011
2013 Cassies Award Winner:Silver awards for Best Insight and Best Use of Media
With a large population of renters and year-long leases typically expiring on June 30, Montreal is home to an annual phenomenon known as Fête du déménagement, or Moving Day. Each year up to 13 per cent of Montrealers pack up their homes and move over the July 1 long weekend.
“When we say we want to increase traffic to a specific IKEA store and our agency proposes putting moving boxes on the street, as a client, we need to be able to bring our open-mindedness to the table, take the leap and recognize that this is a very smart and strategic approach.”
For IKEA and other retailers, that usually means less store traffic and lower sales. After all, when many people are scrambling to move their possessions, shopping for anything but packing tape is low on the priority list.
“Moving Day is unique to the Quebec market,” says Hilary Lloyd, marketing manager of IKEA Canada. “And that makes it a unique opportunity to engage with our customers.”
“In everything we do, we always ask ‘how can we get people engaged?’ It’s not just pushing out a message. We want people to be interested, and we want to be useful in their lives.”
The retailer asked its ad agency, Leo Burnett, to create a campaign that would attract store visitors and increase sales on a weekend when the target market had its attention focused elsewhere.
The classic approach to increasing store traffic would be to buy radio time or distribute flyers, says Judy John, CEO & chief creative officer of Leo Burnett Canada. “The idea would be to get your offers out there to bump up sales.”
But the agency came up with a different approach.
“In everything we do, we always ask ‘how can we get people engaged?’” says Ms. John. “It’s not just pushing out a message. We want people to be interested, and we want to be useful in their lives. We always think about how we can bring the store out to the people.”
For the creative team at Leo Burnett, insight came from two sources. First, they empathized with the struggles of Montrealers who were moving on the same day as everyone else, when moving companies and packing boxes are in short supply. And second, they took inspiration from IKEA’s core brand purpose of creating a better everyday life for people.
“The real power is coming up with a great act, a true expression of what the brand can do. When you get that right, everything else will follow.””
“We didn’t want a campaign aimed at interrupting people who are already busy doing something else,” says Brent Nelsen, the agency’s senior vice-president and planning director. “So the inspiration and creative direction came from wanting to be part of what was going on and finding ways to help make the moving experience better.”
Leo Burnett looked beyond billboards, Facebook pages, flyers and radio to create a new form of media: packing boxes. They built massive pyramids of boxes around the city, encouraging people to help themselves to the usually scarce commodity. The IKEA-branded boxes were printed with useful moving tips and checklists, and some included instructions for how to transform the box into a handy cardboard chair. Each box also included coupons for dinner at IKEA and discounts at the store.
“Moving Day is a classic example of engaging people by creating acts, not ads. It’s shifting media from ignorable to indispensable.”
Boxes were snapped up around the city faster than they could be replaced. And many people took the opportunity to head to the IKEA store.
Ms. Lloyd says that this particular campaign underscores two key components of a strong agency-client relationship: trust and open-mindedness.
“When we say we want to increase traffic to a specific IKEA store and our agency proposes putting moving boxes on the street, as a client, we need to be able to bring our open-mindedness to the table, take the leap and recognize that this is a very smart and strategic approach,” she says.
All involved in the project
agree that the campaign succeeded because it put strategy first and foremost. By focusing on ways to engage with its customers – rather than trying to push a message to them – IKEA was able to tangibly demonstrate that it wants to make life better for its customers.
“Moving Day is a classic example of engaging people by creating acts, not ads,” says Mr. Nelsen. “It’s shifting media from ignorable to indispensable.”
Dom Caruso, president and COO at Leo Burnett Canada, agrees and believes the agency’s approach generates natural social engagement. “The real power is coming up with a great act, a true expression of what the brand can do. When you get that right, everything else will follow.”
ABOUT THE AWARDS
Canadian Advertising Success Stories – the CASSIES – is Canada’s only awards show recognizing the business effectiveness of advertising as demonstrated by rigorous published cases. The ICA (Institute of Communication Agencies) is the driving force behind the event, which is hosted by Strategy Magazine and supported in Quebec by the AAPQ (Association des agences de publicité du Québec) and APCM (Association des professionnels de la communication et du marketing).
Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, the CASSIES reflect the ICA’s long-standing dedication to the advertiser-agency partnership and continuous learning. Winning cases must successfully navigate a demanding two-tier examination by senior-level judges. All told, more than 350 success stories have been published in the Case Library at cassies.ca, along with Crossover Notes that point out critical success factors.
“The CASSIES celebrate unique ideas that build brands and businesses,” says Gillian Graham, CEO of the ICA. “Leo Burnett essentially created a consumer utility and a new medium all in one for Montreal's ‘Moving Day,’ and the result was a strong increase in sales for IKEA.”
The road to CANNES
For many CASSIES award-winning ad agencies, the next challenge will be to take their best work to France to compete in the 2013 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, June 16 to 22.
Officially represented in Canada by The Globe and Mail, the annual Cannes Lions awards are widely considered a pinnacle of global excellence in creative communications.