Ikea Goes Big With Operatic Ad That Finds High Drama in Small Family Moments

What happens when you write to Verdi's Rigoletto

Ikea has done a brilliant job over the past few years, in its home market of Sweden, of dramatizing the highs and lows of everyday home life. 

Families, after all, are the stuff of dramas great and small. While mundane to any outside observer, the dynamics inside the home, for its inhabitants, are full of comedy, tragedy and everything in between. It's where life gets lived—or as Ikea's domestic tagline puts it, it's "Where Life Happens." 

Swedish agency Åkestam Holst has produced nicely understated work in this vein—everything from intentionally boring prerolls to perceptive spots about taboo topics in advertising, like divorce. But now, it's time for something a little more over the top.

Alright, a lot more over the top. 

Behold the new global spot for the just-released 2019 Ikea catalog. Made by Ikea Creative Hub and agency Acne, it's set to "La Donna e Mobile" from the Verdi opera Rigoletto. So, you know it's going to be big. 

2019 IKEA Catalog

Johan Bello, executive creative director at Acne, tells Muse that when they wrote the film, the music came first, "so the entire film was based on the soundtrack." 

The battle between me- and we-time, he adds, is one of everyday life's most recognizable challenges. "We wanted to dramatize and visualize how it feels when we experience it," Bello says. "We realized there is really no better way to do that than to make it an opera, because honestly, the opera writers are the masters of drama and have proven it for over a hundred years." 

Lurking behind every interaction in the home is the concept of sharing, Bello says. 

"Sharing is the universal truth that unifies all homes," he explains. "Who has never had their family wait in line outside the bathroom door because a sibling is taking too long getting ready? Who has never felt that stab of panic when the living room's a mess and the guests are knocking on the door? Who has never fought with their partner over carpets or colors when moving in? The list goes on. We've all been there." 

Doing the spot in an opera style "strikes a humorous tone, yet sparks a relevant discussion in an age where spaces are getting smaller and digital solutions erase the boundaries between work and relaxation," Bello concludes. "How much of my time do I dedicate to myself, how much do I dedicate to being together, and how do I find balance?" 

Client: Ikea
Agency: Ikea Creative Hub
Agency: Acne
Executive Creative Director, Acne: Johan Bello
Creative Director, Ikea Creative Hub: Morten Kjaer
Senior Creative, Acne: Tiago Pinho
Creatives, Acne: Joel Lindblad, Isaac Bonnier
Account Director, Acne: Lovisa Friman Bendz
Directors, Acne: Tompa & Rondo
Assignor, Ikea: Rebecka McJannett
Assignor, Ikea: Tanja Dolphin
Assignment Leader, Ikea Creative Hub: Antje Lühmann

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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