IKEA has a great reputation for creative, crazy but highly strategic ads. However, let’s see how creativity is executed differently in these two ads.
The first ad is a great example of how an advertisement can evoke a powerful sense of the brand and introduce us the products with strong consumer insight. “It’s home. It’s how it makes you feel”. That’s IKEA.
The second ad, otherwise, has nothing to do with our understanding of IKEA. It’s bold and creative, but it’s not useful in promoting IKEA or their products.
This case study reminds me of how Ogilvy and Bernbach think differently about advertising creativity. Ogilvy believes that “aesthetics have nothing to do with advertising. The most important job of an ad is to centre oil the attention on the merchandise and none on the technique of presenting it” (Roman et al., p.18). He creates 4 pillars of advertising creativity, including “Research, Results, Creative brilliance, and Professional discipline”, among which Research is considered as an important step to gain the insights of the brand, its products, and consumers. Bernbach, otherwise, argues that “sophisticated creative work” is much more important than research and Ogilvy’s philosophy is “simplistic” for modern time (op. cit., pp.18-20).
In my opinion, the IKEA second ad can be a “sophisticated creative work”, but it lacks what Ogilvy calls “sale punch”. Again, research to get the insights of the brand, the product, and target customers is always necessary to create creative and useful ads.
So, what is the clients’ role in the creativity process? Anthony Jay said “The uncreative mind can spot the wrong answers. It takes a creative mind to spot the wrong questions” (op. cit., p.7). Keep asking yourself “What is your brand essence? What is the message you want to send to your customers via this ad?” Clients cannot rely completely on ad agency without giving them the right direction. No one understands your own brand better than you. Therefore, clients need to be alert when discussing ad concept with the agency. Always remember that advertisement needs to convey brand image, or else it is useless (Fill 2009, p.369).
This also paves way for the creativity process of ad professionals. “Creativity doesn’t create something out of nothing. It uncovers, selects, reshuffles, combines, synthesises already existing facts, skills and ideas. That’s what Auther Koestler, in his landmark book The Act of Creation, calls ‘bisociation’, a fancy word for putting existing ideas together to create something ‘original’ – like linking computer to telecommunications to create the internet.” (op. cit., p.4).
Fill, C 2009, Marketing Communications: Interactive, Communities and Content, 5th edn, Pearson Education Limited, England.
Roman, K, Maas, J & Nisenholtz, M 2003, How to advertise, 3rd edn, Kogan Page Limited, UK.