CL’s Ikea Debut Set for March

The first work by Carmichael Lynch for its newest client, Ikea, will be a product of what the shop presented during the retailer’s review.

“We gave them a live assignment,” said Joakim Gip, Ikea’s external communications manager. The agencies participating in the review—CL, Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG in New York and The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va.—were asked to create a campaign for a March promotion. The competition for the retailer’s $40-50 million business was run by Pile and Co. in Boston.

“What differentiated [Car-michael] from the others was the totality of their approach,” Gip said. The shop’s presentation included recommendations on using the Internet, direct, and internal communications, he said.

“The assignment was for an event,” said John Colasanti, president of Minneapolis-based CL. “We spent a lot of time talking about the brand. We established a brand foundation that will be prevalent regardless of the event.”

The CL team visited about 16 of the company’s 22 North American stores. Colasanti himself went to Ikea founder Ingvard Kamprad’s farm in Sweden to get a better handle on the brand and actually brought soil from the farm to the pitch.

“The brand is mature in Sweden, and it’s relatively new here,” Colasanti said. “I wanted to understand how the brand was [perceived] in a mature market.”

In the U.S., Ikea is known as a place for young, newly independent consumers to find furnishings for their new homes, Colasanti said. The agency’s challenge will be to retain those consumers, who tend to “deviate” from Ikea as they gain wealth, Colasanti said.

Ikea split with its previous agency, Deutsch in New York, in October after 11 years. The shop had established Ikea as a hip retailer for functional furniture with advertising that had shown how Ikea would remodel venues such as New York subway cars and Gilligan’s Island.

“They have a very high creative bar, and that’s exciting and intimidating,” Colasanti said.