In the 90-second spot below, images of inclusion, equality and sustainability play across the screen, presented from a child’s point of view, accompanied by a schoolgirl’s evocative take on Louis Armstrong’s “It’s a Wonderful World.”
Made to sell Ikea furniture in Canada, the ad, which is the centerpiece of a broader “Beautiful Possibilities” campaign, represents agency Rethink Toronto’s first work for the brand. It continues Ikea’s quest to portray itself as dedicated to making the world a better place, and puts the retailer’s core values—not its inventory of beds, bureaus and bookcases—on display.
“Our goal was to clearly identify where the hopes, needs and dreams of Canadians intersect with our vision at Ikea,” Lauren MacDonald, Ikea country marketing manager for Canada, tells Adweek. “We concluded that at a time when the world is filled with uncertainty and expectations and everyday pressures, Ikea’s role is to help enable Canadians to see what is possible—in their homes and in the world.”
Ikea has fashioned similar messages before. Mother London’s 2016 ads focused on the beauty of everyday life, while Ogilvy New York’s recent 25-minute ASMR video constitutes an offbeat nod in the same direction.
Here, Ikea takes a more direct approach, with mellow footage of urban gardens, two girls heading to the prom together, a guy installing solar panels and a little boy getting his fingernails painted by Mommy. While its perhaps a tad schmaltzy, the kid’s-eye view keeps things real, and saves the film from descending into syrupy feels.
“There are possibilities all around us, [but] not everyone sees the world that way,” says Rethink partner and creative director Aaron Starkman. “However, a child certainly does. A child is born without judgment or perceived limits. And that child’s point of view drives this piece.”
Of course, Armstrong’s iconic “It’s a Wonderful World” has been used in one form or another in every other commercial since the dawn of time. Still, it works well in context—and having Satchmo’s spoken-word intro segue into the girl’s rendition puts a different spin on a familiar soundtrack.
“It’s all about the message of the song that is as relevant today as it was 50 years ago when it was recorded,” Starkman says. “We think using the song as the little girl’s narration brings new meaning and perspective to the lyrics.”
What’s more, the ad continues the recent “Canadian Dream” trend of portraying our neighbor to the north as an inclusive melting pot (a status the U.S. increasingly struggles to maintain in the Trump era).
Cynics might find such notions wielded by for-profit brands gratuitous or overly simplistic. (“Putting together a harmonious society is tougher than assembling a Billy bookcase!”) Still, Ikea makes a point of supporting various causes, and social themes should resonate with its progressive, college-educated customers.
“We took extra care to ensure the cultural cues with respect to representing life at home for Canadians were genuine,” says MacDonald. “This included using items from our own homes and the homes of our cast members to bring this level of authenticity to life.”
Title: Wonderful World
Agency: Rethink Canada
Creative Director: Aaron Starkman
Art Director: Joel Holtby
Writer: Mike Dubrick
Strategist: Sean McDonald
Broadcast Producer (in house): Catherine Dumas
Production Company: Revolver
Director: Reynald Gresset
Editor: Ross Burchall
Director of photography: Matias Boucard
Line Producer: Rob Allen
Post Production House: Saints Editorial
On-Line: Fort York VFX
Audio House: Vapor RMW
Date of First Appearance: September 11, 2017
Rethink Canada Account Services: Caleb Goodman, Lynn Summers, Becky Rudson
Media Buying Agency: Jungle Media
Sheri Metcalfe, SVP Planning
Brock Leeson, VP Digital
Courtney Rimar, Broadcast Investment Manager
Janet Xi, Group Media Manager
Catherine Ramsey, Media Planner
Aman Soin, Assistant Media Planner
Sherry Jean, Social Content Strategist