‘Furniture as Fashion’ Wins Ikea

“Furniture as fashion” sums up the strategy that delivered Ikea’s North American account to Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

“Cars are fashion, clothes are fashion, kitchen appliances are now fashion,” said Tom Birk, the agency’s director of planning and research. “So why shouldn’t my couch and sofa be fashion?”

Strategic planning, not creative director Alex Bogusky’s high-flying advertising, was key to CP+B’s win, sources said. “Our assignment was to redefine how North Americans think about home furnishings,” said Christian Mathieu, Ikea’s external marketing director, U.S. and Canada. “Crispin delivered on that strategy and presented a creative umbrella illustrating how it would come to life.”

CP+B’s research suggested that most consumers change furniture about as often as they do spouses—1.5 times in their lives, a fact that seemingly ran counter to Ikea’s brand proposition: “the democratization of furniture.”

Using Birk’s analysis, Bogusky shaped his pitch creative around a small but vibrant consumer subculture, as varied as “thrift shop devotees and underground trendsetters, that views furniture as fashion and is constantly looking to change up.”

Mathieu said no campaign concept had been approved. Sources said, however, CP+B will portray that subculture as an “accelerating social movement,” much as it has with its “Truth” anti-smoking work.

The Miami shop swept the review committee’s votes, defeating finalists Berlin Cameron/Red Cell in New York and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco to win the $40-50 million account.

Minneapolis incumbent Car-michael Lynch, which held the business for less than a year, did not compete. Pile and Co. in Boston oversaw the review.

Television and print ads supporting Ikea’s goal of opening 50 stores over the next decade should break this fall. Sources said the current tag, “Live better,” is as likely to survive as the Abba music on CP+B’s answering machine.

Carmichael suffered because of a “lack of focus” on both sides of the account, sources said. “They lacked a sense of vision and direction,” said an Ikea executive. “But I hold us 50 percent responsible. You have to be clear with input to get great output.”

The retailer’s 23 North American stores generated 2001 sales of $1.7 billion.