Jan 13, 2009

Mktg - Ikea Builds Own Oval Office for Obama

Elaine Wong

Ikea's got Obama fever. Taking example from other large brands—including Ben & Jerry's and Hewlett-Packard—the Swedish home products retailer today kicked off an out-of-home ad campaign called "Embrace Change '09" that honors President-elect Barack Obama.

The effort centers on an Oval Office replica inside Union Station in Washington, D.C. Through Wednesday, those walking down Union Square's Main Hall can see the Oval Office furnished with Ikea furniture.

"Embrace Change '09" is meant to "celebrate the change" that is coming to the White House, while driving foot traffic to two nearby Ikea stores (in College Park, Md. and Woodbridge, Va.), said Ikea public relations manager Marty Marston.

The integrated campaign includes out-of-home billboards featuring the "Embrace Change ‘09" slogan on local buses and trains. Ikea is also holding a "mock motorcade," touring the D.C. area Jan. 15-16. Ikea will strap "furniture fit for a president" on top of vehicles to symbolize the incoming president and his family moving into their new home.

Other components include a site, www.embracechange09.com, where Ikea fans can design their own Oval Office using a drop-and-drag click tool, and a $1,500 gift card giveaway to visitors who log onto the site.

Ikea, which spent $82 million on U.S. advertising through Oct. 2008 (excluding online), per Nielsen Monitor-Plus, said the campaign's significance is on par, if not greater than promotions for new store openings.

"We have never had an opportunity to do anything surrounding the message of change from a national standpoint," Marston said, adding that Ikea seized a good branding opportunity. "[Obama's] notion of change and his commitment to fiscal responsibility match the Ikea philosophy of practical and affordable home furnishings for all."

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