Suits: ACCOUNT TREE – A capsule history of a long-standing agency-client relationship. Reported by Mark Lang

IKEA, Stockholm, Sweden

1943 IKEA is entered into the Swedish Trade Register as a commercial enterprise. The name IKEA consists of the initials of the founder, Ingvar
Kamprad, along with the letters of the farm, Elmtaryd, and the parish, Agunnaryd, where he grew up.

1950 Furniture is introduced into the company’s product line.

1951 The first IKEA catalogue is published.

1953 IKEA opens its first permanent showroom in €lmhult, Sweden.

1955 The company starts to design its own products and, one year later, debuts easy-to-assemble furniture.

1958 The first IKEA store is launched in €lmhult.

1965 IKEA opens the flagship store in Stockholm with a new twist-self-service. Customers collect what they want to buy directly off the warehouse shelves.

1973 The Stockholm outlet is ravaged by fire. A new 45,800-square-meter store, with a circular design inspired by New York’s Guggenheim Museum, is built in suburban Kungens Kurva. The first store outside of Scandinavia opens in Spreitenbach, Switzerland, near Zurich. Inter-IKEA A/S in Denmark forms a base for international expansion.

1974 The company launches its first German store, in Munich. Over the next 15 years, IKEA opens outlets in Austria (1977), Holland (1979), France (1981), Belgium (1984), the United Kingdom (1987) and Italy (1989).

1976 IKEA begins operations in Canada. Ingvar Kamprad writes his autobiography, Testaments of a Furniture Dealer.

1983 The 6,000th employee joins the company.

1985 The first U.S. store opens in Plymouth Meeting, Penn.

1990 IKEA is named Money magazine’s “Retailer of the Year.” The company opens sales outlets in Hungary and Poland. A store in the Czech Republic is launched a year later.

1993 With 114 sales outlets, IKEA can now be found in 25 countries.

1996 Sales reach $5.8 billion worldwide, with $754 million of that
coming from North America. The U.S. and Canadian divisions are consolidated to form IKEA North America.


1989 IKEA hires Deutsch to handle East Coast operations and to launch advertising in the New York market. Agency chief executive Donny Deutsch (right) calls it “a threshold win for the agency.” Deutsch recruits Linda Sawyer (below, right) to lead the account.

1990 On May 23, IKEA opens a store in Elizabeth, N.J. Deutsch’s “It’s a big country. Someone’s got to furnish it” tagline strikes a chord with consumers, causing opening-day exit closings on the New Jersey Turnpike, and breaks all previous worldwide sales records. The Phase 1 launch campaign (below) turns IKEA’s perceived negatives-no salespeople, no deliveries-into positives that challenge consumers to find any real benefit to these services. Paul Goldman and Eric McClellan round out the creative team.

1991 The agency’s IKEA work takes gold at both Cannes and the Effies. A second New York-area store opens in Hicksville, on Long Island.

1992 IKEA’s “3% sales tax campaign” calls on New Yorkers to cross state lines to take advantage of New Jersey’s lower tax rates, which causes a riff between government
officials of both states.

1993 Deutsch is awarded the IKEA West business and the “Lifestyle” campaign phase is launched. Dallas Itzen, Kathy Delaney and Patrick O’Neil are members of the “Lifestyle” creative team concentrating on IKEA’s appeal to a wide audience-singles, young families, empty nesters; the team’s work depicts adopting parents, a divorced mom and a young, engaged couple.

1994 The “Dining Room” television spot breaks new ground as the first ad to depict a gay couple in the mass media. The commercial gains worldwide attention and even its own bulletin board on America Online.

1995 Deutsch heads west and opens a Los Angeles office. Not only is it closer to the IKEA West market, but the new space is outfitted with IKEA furnishings.

1996 The critically acclaimed “Parents To Be” spot, which features a young couple talking about their dream of having a family, further illustrates IKEA’s commitment to a diversified target audience. (The couple happens to be interracial.)

1997 Deutsch is awarded the entire IKEA North America account (including Canadian operations) as well as all media buying and planning duties. Entertainment Weekly names IKEA as one of the 50 best national television campaigns of all time. Interactive Deutsch wins IKEA’s new media business and prepares to develop a Web site that will span 55 countries.