As the world's advertising elite gather in Cannes this week, the winner of perhaps the most coveted industry award has already been announced. Ikea has been anointed Advertiser of the Year.
A radical amongst the bland furniture retailers whose price-led advertising dominates our commercial breaks, Ikea is recognised for its provocative and humorous ads around the world. Right from its early "Chuck Out Your Chintz" and "Stop Being So English" campaigns to its latest "Peace, Love and Storage" ad by ad agency Mother, asking viewers to vote on whether men or women are messier, Ikea has always dared to be different. In its homeland of Sweden, Ikea created a Facebook page for its Malmo store manager, who uploaded photos of new furniture to his page; the first customer to tag the pic won the furniture.
Where rivals have sold themselves primarily on price, with ads created by the bucket-load to a tired formula, Ikea has layered attitude onto its value message.
Its UK advertising budget is less than a tenth that of some of its rivals. For the Swedish furniture retailer, founded in 1943 by 17-year-old Ingvar Kamprad, the accolade is welcome news. Ikea is reeling after bomb attacks on its stores across Europe this month which have brought the company's heritage under scrutiny.
Police are investigating whether the bombings are related to Kamprad's pro-fascist leanings in the Second World war, an allegiance he regrets bitterly.
Ikea will have to work even harder to overcome the negative publicity. Never has it been more important for it to keep to its advertising ethos to "inspire people to fulfil needs and dreams in their everyday life at home... with a smile".
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