Ikea’s Furnishings Vanish in These Subtly Smart Ads About the Catalog Moving Online

Promoting new items, alongside a new approach

Ikea Denmark has gone fully digital with its catalog this year, so these ads promote new products with a suitable visual. Hjaltelin Stahl
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The brief called for ads that promote new items in the Ikea catalog while also acknowledging that, in Denmark at least, there no longer is a catalog.

So Danish agency Hjaltelin Stahl, owned by Accenture Interactive, came up with an outdoor campaign that does both in a visually clever way.

In out-of-home ads that have been running throughout August, the agency highlights new Ikea products without actually showing them. Instead, they’ve been cut out of the ads, leaving only a transparent silhouette of the products.

“Out catalog has moved online,” the headline of each ad says. “Find all the new furniture at Ikea.dk.”

Hjaltelin Stahl

Sweden-based Ikea’s catalog has been distributed in Denmark for 50 years, reaching an audience of up to 2 million Danish households. But this year, as part of a “digital transformation,” the brand is moving its catalog entirely online.

“For us at Ikea and for the many Ikea fans we have in Denmark, the decision to digitize the printed catalog is really a big thing,” says Elefteria Cromlidou, marketing manager of Ikea Denmark, in a statement about the transition. “For 50 years, the catalog has marked the beginning of a new business year for us, and it has been a permanent reference point for employees, customers and others with an interest in interior design. 2019 marks a new chapter in Ikea Denmark’s history, where in the future we will inspire the many people through the digital platforms they already use, with relevant content that meets their style, wishes and needs.”

Hjaltelin Stahl

The brand’s announcement of the digital-only catalog for Denmark doesn’t mention any environmental considerations behind the decision, instead focusing on evolving consumer behaviors in Denmark and an increasing preference for digital media.

Globally, Ikea has worked with the Forest Stewardship Council for certification of all its catalogs as being sourced from responsibly managed forests. With 185 million copies produced around the world each year, the catalog is reportedly the largest publication to receive the certification.

Ikea has not said if it will drop its print edition elsewhere in the near future, and in fact has been testing printing its catalog twice annually in France, Japan, Singapore and Sweden. “Despite producing twice as many in these markets,” Ikea said in its fiscal year 2018 sustainability report, “we aim to maintain or reduce our absolute climate footprint from all catalogues published globally.”

@griner david.griner@adweek.com David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."