Forsman & Bodenfors, Ikea’s Swedish agency, has turned to boxed themes to support the distribution of the retail giant’s latest catalogue (pun intended). However, like the popular Ikea Hacks generated by its loyal fans, Ikea’s new marketing effort has combined standard reality TV and sitcom themes to create innovative and captivating YouTube videos targeting Millennials.
Here’s the scenario: The show’s host welcomes a millennial couple as they enter an Ikea store and has them hypnotized into parenting their future children (played by actors) through various life dramas. The scenes support this year’s catalogue, which is titled: Where the everyday begins and ends. Each scene occurs in the future bathroom or bedroom of the customers being hypnotized – two rooms that Ikea merchandisers are paying particular attention to this year.
It is an interesting experiment. The target audience is clearly Millennials, to whom Ikea is subtly introducing the concept that Ikea furniture will be part of their lives as they age and have kids. It’s like the company is hypnotizing its audience with a show about hypnosis.
What They Did Right
Millennials have a much wider interest range and behavioral traits than the common theories that categorize the group would have us believe. Advertising to Millennials isn’t formulaic. In a recent study, Vision Critical surveyed 1018 Americans ages 18+ to determine viewing patterns. What may surprise many marketers is that the group followed many genres, ranging from awards shows and network sitcoms to reality-competition shows and MLB playoff games. One thing was clear however: Regardless of the 18 different types of programming marked as popular among the audience, most reported watching less live programming than either Gen-Xers or Baby Boomers.
Millennials are turning to streaming services and social media to satisfy their entertainment and news needs. On that note, this Ikea campaign hit all the marks to successfully target this audience. Its format mimics popular television programs among Millennials, which include half-scripted scenarios and reality show-style interviews. More importantly, it was a made-for-YouTube production.
Millennials don’t watch programming as much as they “follow” programming. For example, studies have shown that 60% more Millennials than Gen-Xers (and 129% more Millennials than Baby Boomers) watch highlights/clips of late-night TV talk shows after they’ve originally aired. Made-for-YouTube commercials have become requisite marketing for brands reaching out to this audience, if not exclusively, as an integral part of the engagement.
The other critical element of this campaign is its use of humor. We cannot undervalue the effect of humor in brand-consumer communications, be it general content marketing or produced commercials.
Lastly, the brand and products are used as background players, not the stars of the production. One of the first rules that has evolved from social media marketing is the concept of not selling through social channels, and it’s a notion that many sales and marketing teams continue to struggle with. Community, entertainment, and education are the pillars of modern social advertising and this effort hits the second element well.
Are made-for-YouTube commercials requisite marketing for brands targeting Millennial consumers?
Feed Your Community, Not Your Ego