Cannes Lions

The Climate Change Effect

RETHINK, Toronto / IKEA / 2019

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Overview

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Overview

Background

IKEA is famous for creating beautiful affordable furniture. It became the poster child for disposability. That was something that needed to change. The brand has taken huge strides to become more sustainable, investing in renewables, practicing sustainable manufacturing, and committing to become fully circular. By 2030, the brand is reducing the carbon footprint of all their products by 70%.

IKEA wanted to demonstrate their commitment to the world. The brief was to help people understand how important action on climate change is and how important it is for brands to commit to a more sustainable and circular economy.

Our goal wasn’t profit. In fact, we knew the execution would probably hurt immediate sales, but our focus was on the long-term. We wanted people to understand and believe in our shift to sustainability. We wanted to increase brand equity. And we wanted people to feel the real effects of climate change.

Idea

We created the IKEA Climate Change Effect. We shut down the temperature regulating systems at IKEA to allow the temperature to rise to predicted climate change levels. The idea was to take something intangible and bring it to life for consumers, making it completely unavoidable.

Consumers were initially unaware of why the conditions in IKEA were so uncomfortable. We used the famous layout of IKEA to take them on a journey - throughout the store as they explored the space, people found signage and products that are sustainable and fight climate change. The items were strategically placed in the store to create an immersive experience for customers.

The entire experience was filmed and turned into online content to show the world our commitment to sustainability and give people an idea of what the effects will be if we don’t take action.

Strategy

People ignore climate change because it feels distant from their everyday lives, especially businesses who worry acting will hurt their bottom line. IKEA set out to bring climate change to life.

Many businesses and companies talk about fighting climate change. But to truly get customers to believe in our commitment, we knew we had to go beyond token donations and statements. We had to prove to customers that we were willing to lose money. And so, we set out to bring climate change to life for our consumers and for ourselves.

We wanted everyone to feel the effects of climate change. We wanted people who care about sustainability, and people who are climate change deniers to be part of our experiment. Whether young or old, climate change will effect us all, and we set out to make sure our campaign affected everyone that stepped into our store.

Execution

We set up an experiment within the walls of IKEA. On one of the hottest days of the year, we turned off the temperature regulating HVAC system at IKEA and allowed temperatures to increase to predicted climate change levels. We turned an in-store experience that IKEA is famous for, and turned it into something powerful - and uncomfortable. We wanted to see if that “climate change” in the store would hurt our business. And it did.

With the temperature change, IKEA became the opposite of what people expect. Instead of the comfortable inviting shopping experience, the store clocked in at an uncomfortable 30+ degrees celsius. It didn’t take long for customers to feel the effects.

The entire experience was filmed and shared via IKEA’s social channels. And in-store signage was created that shined a light on the effects on the planet of a four degree temperature shift.

Outcome

A principle isn’t a principle until it costs you something. In this case, visitor numbers declined, sales were well below avg targets, and interestingly, the conversion of visitors to customers dropped (i.e. people left).

But we knew the long-term benefits of raising awareness on climate change and proving our commitment to sustainability as a brand were paramount.

Sentiment for IKEA sharply increased. Customer sentiment shined on social where IKEA was commended for the effort and for their efforts to become a more sustainable brand.

Sustainable items continue to perform extremely well, and IKEA has committed to reducing the carbon footprint of all their products by 2030, and in April, they announced that they have eliminated all plastic straws from Canadian locations.

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