How Imma, the Virtual Influencer, Crossed Into the Real World for Ikea

Wieden + Kennedy Tokyo brings her to Harajuku

Imma is back! As promised on her Instagram, the virtual influencer's made good on her long-awaited move: to a storefront apartment in Harajuku, where she recently lived for three days under the curious gazes of passersby.

The work, created by Wieden + Kennedy Tokyo, is a promotion for a new Ikea retail location. 

Ikea Harajuku with Imma

"Imma," as we observed when last we saw her, is Japanese for "now," and the Ikea work is certainly a reflection of complex times, if not all our complex feelings. Covid gives Imma a nice pretext for staying inside nearly all day, promoting homewares in a typically small apartment for urban dwellers. 

In harmonious silence, she vacuums, learns to cook, does yoga, and Instagrams her dog, Einstein, eating her socks. This marks the first time Imma's ever "existed" outside the virtual world … and the moments when she looks directly at the shop windows, almost as if she's a little bothered by people peering in at her, are a nice touch.

She even has a quote for us. "My day-to-day changed a lot since we started social distancing," she faithfully reports. "It was challenging, but I explored different ways of finding happiness at home, and I realized the importance of creating my own personal space. I'm so glad I can share a little insight into my new home life with the world."

We don't want to begrudge Imma her happiness. But given she only exists to serve as a marketing curiosity, it's not as if she has to spend Covid working or raising kids (or, honestly, even eating!). As far as we know, she has never known the abject sensation of pitching business on Zoom one minute, then awkwardly dancing for others in a Zoom social the next.

But like all challenges she's risen to so far, we suspect, given the chance, she'd play-act this aspect of our lives with equally upbeat grace, a model to us all. (Then again, even if you're not a totally fictional person, many aspects of life feel funner when they're only pretend.)

The Ikea Harajuku installation combined physical space with LED screens, with the color temperature of the LED panels adapting in real time, making it difficult to see the seams where the real and digital worlds met before onlookers' eyes. Light meters tracked color temperature outside, then reacted to daylight and the weather.

Imma's bedroom appeared on a large screen on the store's façade, which is visible from Harajuku Station (and its 110,000 daily commuters). Those who couldn't visit Imma in real life could watch her via livestream on Ikea Japan's YouTube channel:

And of course, Imma went on updating people via social media. Everything she did in the real world was augmented with a digital connection, from her window doodles—which appeared on Instagram—to the music she danced to in her living room (which you could listen to on her Spotify Home playlist). And when she wasn't onscreen, she was walking her dog around Yoyogi Park. (Luckily, he too has an Instagram.)

One goal in working with Imma was to appeal to a younger demographic, which Ikea Japan confesses it's never much addressed.

"We've been working on the launch of our new Harajuku shop for a long time and had to change things up a little due to Covid-19, but the purpose remains the same," says Anna Ohlin, Ikea Japan's country marketing manager. "We want to inspire and help the youth of Tokyo to find their own happiness at home. With the pandemic still top-of-mind, this need has become more relevant than ever. By partnering with Imma, we can share a new vision of the home with a demographic that Ikea has never spoken to before."

It's hard to deny the brand did its homework. So much of Imma's life reflects a certain generation's behavior that it's almost a weird mirror into ourselves. We, too, have learned to cultivate digital "windows" into so many aspects of our lives, it almost feels like a complete picture: Together we learned to bake, do more yoga, and film our lonely living room dances for a larger audience. 

And frankly, whose dog doesn't have an Insta?

The three-day campaign ran at August's end. Additional 15-second videos of Imma engaged in mundane tasks appear below.

Witness her nightly mask routine:

Ikea Harajuku with Imma | Beauty Routine

Watch her patiently customize furniture:

Ikea Harajuku with Imma | DIY

And behold as she vacuums:

Ikea Harajuku with Imma | Vacuuming

IKEA Harajuku with imma
PROJECT NAME IKEA Harajuku with imma
LAUNCH DATE August 28, 2020

Executive Creative Director Scott Dungate (スコット・ダンゲート)
Creative Lead Max Pilwat (マックス・ピルワット)
Copywriters Max Cameron (マックス・キャメロン)
Haruto Murata (村田遥人)
Art Director / Designer Shohei Kawada (川田翔平)
Creative Tech Director Kyoko Yonezawa (米澤香子)
Head of Production Kerli Teo (カーリ・テオ)
Agency Producers Kosuke Sasaki (佐々木洸介)
Yoko Onodera (小野寺陽子)
Reiko Kawaguchi (川口玲子)
Siyun Kim (シユン・キム)
Hanako Adams(アダムス華子)
Account Team William Smith (ウィリアム・スミス)
Becky Levy (ベッキー・レビィ)
Naoko Okada (岡田直子)
Chelsea Hayashi (チェルシー・ハヤシ)
Asako Takahashi (髙橋朝香)
Strategic Planner Hasse Lemola (ハッセ・レモラ)
Comms Planner Justin Lam (ジャスティン・ラム)
Eri Hirose (廣瀬 衣理 )
Studio Manager Kiki Bowman (キキ・ボウマン)
Aiwei Ichikawa (市川アイウェイ)
Translator Toshiko Iida (飯田 淑子 )
Agency Editor Vinod Vijayasankaran (ヴィノドヴィジャヤサンカラン)
Jacob Kim (ジェイコブ・キム)
Event Photographer Alexis Wuillaume(アレックシ・ウイオム)

Virtual Human PRODUCTION
(Talent / CGI) : Film
Executive Producer Producer M
Producer Yuna Hori (堀 有那)
CGI AnimationCafe

PRODUCTION COMPANY 株式会社ヘリクシーズ (Maxilla)
Producer Daichi Tanaka (田中大地)
Director Tetsuro Abo (阿保哲郎)
Production Manager Ami Murata (村田英美)
Cameraman Tomonobu Kasai (葛西知伸)
Gaffer Takamasa Furukawa (古川 隆柾)
Production Designer Emi Kaneko (金子恵美)

Tech Director / Programmer Ken Murayama (村山 健)

Producer Naohito Nishitani (西谷 直士)
Shion Kimura (木村 史園)
Photographer Kisshomaru Shimamura (嶌村 吉祥丸)

Print Coordinator Tsutomu Kawakami (河上 勉)
Hitoshi Sugita (杉田 仁)
Masayuki Uno (宇野 正幸)

Tech Director Kazunari Takashima (高嶋 一成)

PRODUCTION COMPANY MassiveMusic Tokyo (MassiveMusic 株式会社)

Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is the European markets editor at Muse by Clio. She also writes about gaming and fashion, and whatever else she's interested in, really. She's based in Paris and North Italy, so if you're local, say hi. She might eat all your food.

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