A Son Captures a Year’s Worth of Crazy Love for Mom in Holiday Ad From Ikea

Soulful soundtrack for a sweet story

Van Morrison’s sentimental soft-rock ditty “Crazy Love” has no connection to the holiday season, but the 1970 song still provides a soulful soundtrack for Ikea Canada’s poignant holiday ad below.

A harried, often overwhelmed single mom (Sarah Murphy-Dyson) struggles all year long to provide a happy, loving life for her son. When the holidays arrive, the youngster finds a sweet way to celebrate the good times they shared.

UPDATE: The Van Morrison song was only licensed for use in Canada, so Adweek had to remove the ad. 

“Crazy Love” works exceptionally well as it gently propels the story of a boy who uses Ikea Korken bottles to “collect” all the joy, love and fun he experiences with Mom. (Sorry, Jim Croce, maybe next time.)

“We started thinking about what it would look like if we celebrated the possibilities that exist during the holidays throughout the rest of the year,” Lauren MacDonald, marketing chief at Ikea Canada, tells AdFreak. “We want consumers to recognize that moments of goodness don’t just exist during the holidays, but actually happen all year long.”

With “Bottled,” Ikea joins Macy’s in eschewing familiar Christmas ornamentation such as Santa and his elves. The Swedish furniture chain also stays true to its own aesthetic of telling deeply affecting stories that keep overt branding to a minimum. And in telling the story of a single mom and her sometimes difficult life, the new work is reminiscent of Swedish agency Åkestam Holst’s “Where Life Happens” work for Ikea.

Rethink Toronto, which developed the new spot, trod a similar path for Ikea a few months back, showing an inclusive world seen through a child’s eyes. That commercial also relied heavily on music, driven by a version of Louis Armstrong’s “It’s a Wonderful World.”

Here, Ikea tugs at the heartstrings without descending into seasonal sappiness, thanks to the grounded, at times gritty direction of Spy Films’ Rachel McDonald.

“As a consumer, the takeaway should be that you don’t need a lot of money to have the beautiful kind of life you want and the beautiful kind of home you want,” says Rethink creative director Aaron Starkman. “On a personal level, I’ve been so inspired by my own sister, who for many years was a struggling single mom and one of the most amazing mothers I’ve ever met.”

Adding to the realism, “the woman we cast as the mom of our 6-year-old boy is an actual mom of a 6-year-old, and was able to draw on real personal experiences with her own child,” MacDonald says.

“At the end of the first day of shooting, we had a moment of realization and celebration,” she adds. “Our agency account team were women, the client team were all women, and we had a female director—all of us working together to tell a story about the deep love between a single mom and her devoted son.”

Title: Bottled
Client: Ikea
Agency: Rethink
Creative Director: Aaron Starkman
Art Director: Jake Bundock, Paul Riss
Writer: Aaron Starkman , David Daga
Strategist: Sean McDonald, Stacy Ross
Broadcast Producer: Anne Marie Martignago
Production Company: Spy Films
Director: Rachel McDonald
Editor: Brian Williams
Director of photography: Evan Prospfsky
Line Producer: Jennifer Walker
Post Production House: Saints Editorial
On-Line: The Vanity
Grading: Alter Ego
Audio House: Vapor RMW
Date of First Appearance: December 4, 2017
Account Services: Caleb Goodman, Lynn Summers, Becky Rudson

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@DaveGian davegia@hotmail.com David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.