Why Ikea's In-House Creative Hub Is Totally Half-Baked … on Purpose

A happy medium between control and crowdsourcing

Ikea's developed a reputation for advertising that's creative, inventive and culture-savvy without losing its practical edge. It's a brand that somehow maintains control of its message while manifesting itself in dramatically different ways—whether it's taking on serious, rarely discussed topics in Sweden, addressing parental nostalgia in France, or collaborating with artists in the U.K.

For this reason, it's become an It Brand for creatives seeking to boost their portfolios. To make that easier, and also ensure the best ideas (ideally) always win, it turns out Ikea has a Creative Hub.

This spin on an in-house agency creates global campaigns and content across Ikea markets. But it remains deliberately half-staffed to cultivate relationships with great industry minds—in fact, its homepage openly asks people whether they'd like to join the core team or collaborate with the team that's already there.

For Ikea's 2018 back-to-school campaign, for example, the Creative Hub worked with Malmö, Sweden-based agency Garbergs. The "Hello to New Beginnings" campaign is rolling out across multiple markets, addressed to young adults leaving home for the first time. 

Here's the hero ad, which recently went live in Switzerland.

Ikea | Hello to New Beginnings

In a series of supporting ads, which are super-short and make for easy social snacking, Garbergs explores how the things you purchase can serve purposes uniquely your own... 

Ikea | Hello to New Beginnings | FJÄLLA Life Hack

...and purposes uniquely intimate. (Maybe parents should close their eyes for this one.)

Ikea | Hello to New Beginnings | HÖNSBÄR

There's a natural "life-hack" element to this work. If you remember what it was like to furnish your own space (or even your own agency!) for the first time, you know that sometimes even the most practical items need to take on double-time for fun. 

Ikea | Hello to New Beginnings | ÅMLIDEN Life Hack

Because of how the Creative Hub lends itself naturally to collaboration, notions of life-hacking and appropriation make room for other creators to contribute their spin—critical for the target market, which often requires creative solutions to compensate for low disposable income (consider the average college student). 

In the video below, YouTuber April Bee demonstrates how to turn a super-basic piece of Ikea furniture, in this case a Rast chest, into a mirrored nightstand:

Meanwhile, Melanie Thiebert does a timelapse of how she transformed an ordinary bedroom into a space reminiscent of an A-list star's trailer: 

Earlier this month, Victors & Spoils, a creative agency whose entire business model relied on crowdsourcing talent, closed shop after Havas' acquisition six years ago. This led to lots of conversation about the folly of crowdsourcing creativity, and whether agencies could legitimately use models like this to reinvent themselves. 

On the other side of the conversation, there are strong brands with internal agencies, like Pepsi's Creators League—which, awkwardly, helped Pepsi win Brand of the Year at MIPTV in the same week its work featuring Kendall Jenner destroyed the internet (and people's faith in its judgment, at least temporarily).

The compelling thing about Ikea's Creative Hub is that it comes directly from the brand, so the people working there are invested in Ikea's success as much as one can possibly be. But it also doesn't entirely rely on those people, recognizing instead that the best ideas come when agencies and independent creators alike can take your core insight and make it their own. 

Just like a Rast chest.

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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