Ikea’s Christmas Experiment Sweetly Shows That Kids Want So Much More Than Toys

Letters to their parents

Yo, grinches. I challenge you not to tear up, just a little, as you watch "The Other Letter," a holiday video from Ikea created by McCann Spain.

Young children are asked to write two letters saying what they want for Christmas. The first is addressed to the Three Kings—rather than Santa, because this is Spain—and predictably, the kids ask for material stuff like toys and games. The more creative requests include a Wii gaming system, a piano and a unicorn. (Sounds like my Christmas list, actually.)

Next, they're asked to write a wish list addressed to their parents. At first, the kids seem perplexed—their confused reactions are priceless. Ultimately, they compose letters that are completely different from their Three Kings requests, with lists that reflect the deeper meaning of the season. "Imagine," says one of the kids' moms, "you want to give them the best you can, and the best is yourself!"

The campaign uses the hashtags #LaOtraCarta and @LaOtraNatividad and includes "The Other Christmas," a moving 60-second spot (see below) directed by Primo's Felipe that employs a lighter touch to deliver its message.

Sure, the approach is manipulative, and the theme is perhaps only tangentially connected to Ikea. Even so, it's a potent stocking stuffer, and a worthy addition to the furniture chain's year-long stream of offbeat and memorable brand content.

Another great takeaway from the video: Kids don't really need unicorns to be happy. That should come as a relief to parents, as feeding and stable costs can really add up.

@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.