Quick Read: The idea of breaking free and getting lost has always fascinated us. Interestingly this idea manifests itself not just outdoors but also indoors. 

Ajatashatru the fakir, renowned conjurer and trickster, lands in Paris.

His mission? To acquire a splendid new bed of nails. His destination? IKEA.

And there he decides to stay, finding an obliging wardrobe in which to lay his head. Only when he emerges from his slumber does he discover that he is locked in, unable to free himself and heading for England in the back of a truck.

So begins The extraordinary Journey of the Fakir who got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe – a book by Romain Puertolas


Or let’s take Allan Karlsson who’s sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home, as his one-hundredth birthday party is to begin. The Mayor and even the press will soon be there. But for some reason he doesn’t want to attend his own party. So what does he do?

He climbs out of his bedroom window and disappears. And embarks on an unlikely journey involving criminals, murders, police and a suitcase full of cash.

That’s the theme of a book by Jonas Jonasson called The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared.


The idea of breaking free and getting lost seemed to have always fascinated us as a species. Call it our natural state of entropy or a throw back to our primal tendencies of being a nomad, we seem to have always nursed a flame for throwing everything away and becoming a nomad.

Naturally, the SUV category lends itself to both literal and metaphorical articulations of this yearning of breaking free.

Time to get out there

While typical ads for such ideas tend to showcase the spectre of seduction of the wild vs the boredom of getting chained amongst sterile urban landscapes, the recent Volkswagen campaign by DDB Berlin pushes the creative envelope by taking inspiration from the most unexpected – yet very apt –  sources.

The idea: The great majority of us are not as adventurous and well-traveled as we might think we are. In fact, if we think about it, we are surrounded by ordinary objects that have traveled way more than us. Based on this insight, DDB Berlin created a series of print ads that tell the exciting stories of a paper clip, a disposable lighter, a coin, and a pencil, in a way that pokes fun at our own sedentary lives.

Volkswagen SUV range, Source
Volkswagen SUV range, Source
Volkswagen SUV range, Source

Each one is a copy writing gem on its own!

While driving off in an SUV is a natural expression of our innate nomadic tendencies, recent times have seen this philosophy seep even into the confines of our bedrooms or drawing rooms!

Nomadism within our homes 

Lidewij Edelkoort, a Dutch trend forecaster, believes that nomadism is a key trend that can be seen playing even within our homes. We no longer adhere to strict borders or rules even within homes: a formal drawing room to entertain guests, a bedroom to sleep in, a study to work. That’s not how the urban citizen lives, so there’s a need to design for a fluid home.

IKEA India’s creative director Mia Lundström in one of her recent interviews echoes this insight around nomadism and says “People live, eat, work, sleep a little bit everywhere in the home. So we make products that don’t have a specific destination but fit in many different contexts around the home. We don’t tell people this cushion is for the sofa. It could be for that or the Rattan chair on the terrace.”

Earlier this year Ikea even launched two collections ostensibly designed for today’s modern nomads living life on their own terms.

A chair that is your own little cocoon? Check.

IKea - cucoon
IKEA, Source

A chair to sleep on? Check this out chair with 18 cushions!

IKEA, Source

And many more such designs (see here).

It will be interesting to see how ideas and products across categories adopt this philosophy of nomadism, i.e., those that are designed for fluidity – so they don’t necessarily adhere to categories but contexts.

(Featured Image:Volkswagen Lighter Ad, DDB Germany. Source )

The IKEA Test

Quick Read: Well let’s just say that if IKEA had considered opening a couples’ relationship counselling centre at each of its stores, it might give the couples’ counsellors a run for their money! 

If there were to be a prep school for wannabe couples, the final test for graduation could argaubly be throwing them at the task of shopping for furniture… together.

Full discosure: Mrs and I somehow aced that test – though she derives an indescribable pleasure everytime she sees this PepperFry commercial.

No wonder then IKEA is parodied to be the #1 place where couples could realise that they actually can’t stand each other!

Probably armed with this insight, Ramani Durvasula – a California-based clinical psychologist is actually using IKEA shopping runs as a communications exercise for her couples therapy. (H/T Racked)

Ask her if IKEA is a domestic wonderland or a map of a relationship nightmare, and you are told that it could be the later. In fact, according to this WSJ report, she thinks the Ikea shopping experience is fraught with anxiety for couples, for example the kitchen models can lead to arguments about who doesn’t do the dishes and so forth.

Speaking of which, doing dishes could be a seperate thesis altogether on the perils of matrimony.

Actually make it ‘doing dishes’ + ‘trying to own the remote’ and you could have a perfect reciple for domestic disaster.

This commercial for Pril dishwashing liquid is a little undiscovered gem along those lines (though it could be accused of packing a little too many of a punch in one single ad).

(sorry non Hindi readers, wish there were sub titles)

And by the way there even seems to be a compelling case that says  – when in need of a marriage therapy, just do the dishes!

So the next time someone tells you that brands could do with some insights from ethnographic and psycho-analytical research. Tell them that the later could also be true.

[Bonus (and unrelated) Read: Nearly 3 years ago, BrandedNoise featured a post called ‘The IKEA Effect‘]

(Featured Image: Rashid and Shirley Smith got married at the IKEA in Elizabeth, N.J., in 2013. Source)

Wash Your Bill + Space For Rent

Sampling and Coupons.

Let’s start with ‘sampling’ – the initiative through which marketers offer consumers an opportunity to try out their product/service for free or for a nominal charge, so that they get a first hand experience and thereby form an opinion about the offering. The philosophy? Trying IS believing. calls this TRYVERTISING. Everyone of us have at some point or other been offered free samples or a chance to try out something for free. But how many of those do we remember? How many of those experiences have left an impression on us and carved a niche for themselves in our mind?

As with all other marketing executions, the key challenge for sampling is to stand out as a memorable message delivered through a touch point that is innovative, relevant and remarkable (as in ‘Remarkable’ = Anything that is worth making a remark about). Though it sounds like an obvious statement to make, identifying and executing sampling through touch points that are relevant (to the target consumer) can become an uphill task as we descend down the ‘ladder of involvement’. In other words, while a bedroom furniture store’s idea of offering customers nap for free, may not sound like a ingenuous mattress sampling idea, I would think that it requires a good deal of ingenuity to think of innovative, distinct and relevant sampling avenues for low involvement product categories.

Take for example, the category of Dish Washing Sponges. How do you introduce them to a new demographic like the Youth? How do you deal with the challenge of being ‘innovative’ and ‘remarkable’ when you speak about something as boring/avoidable as Dish Washing to a segment of consumers who are as ‘challenging’ as the Youth? 3M’s Scotch Brite did it in Brazil. The Wash Your Bill Campaign. See the video for all details.

A fun way of reaching out to a new demographic, through touch points and instances that are remarkable  and innovative. It has all elements to be sticky. Surprises you, delights you, compels you to share the experience, and makes you speak about it. The following screen shot says it all about the potential of this.

A great example of sampling executed in a cool way!

Now let’s get to ‘coupons’.

How do you make coupons sound serious? Like serious money? By making it sound as a real business deal, so that the consumers have a ‘real’ stake in the equation. IKEA is known to be ‘Out of the Box’ when it comes to its marketing. Recently, in Australia it has come up with, what I think is a fantastic campaign called ‘Space for Rent’. Executed by 303Lowe, this campaign spans the entire 360 spectrum of touch points to reach out and target the consumers that are willing to ‘rent out some space for IKEA’.

Hang on..did I say consumers renting out space for IKEA and getting paid in return? Indeed. Watch the video here.

What I loved is the sheer genius of the solution. It smartly repurposes the whole question and turns it around into an almost irresistible offer. Kudos to the team behind it!

Another innovative ‘couponing’ example is the recent emart’s 3D QR code campaign to generate traffic during the non peak hours in Seoul. See the video here.

What I liked about this campaign is that it almost creates a sense of urgency, owing to the 60 mins time window of 12-1PM when the Sun just about helps you get a QR code out of those strategically placed installations. And thereby spurs you and entices you to take action.

Nice finds for the week.

And you thought ‘sampling’ and ‘coupons’ were dirty cheap words?