Can an advertising campaign become one of those ‘sticky’ elements that the media use on a recurring basis and that ends up establishing itself as a repeated and popular fact? If it succeeds, the job of the marketing teams in the company in question will be somewhat half done.
This is what has already happened to Ikea with one of those curiosities that are repeated about how they are and how successful they are in Europe. One of those pieces of information that usually appears in the lists of curiosities and that is often mentioned in articles about the success of the company – and it is done in media articles of all kinds and of all levels of, so to speak, seriousness – It is that one in ten Europeans is conceived in a bed sold by the furniture chain.
The data is shocking, one of those worthy of headlines, and that connects quickly with the public because it helps them understand the reach of the brand. You just have to look for that statement – and it can be done in several languages - on the internet to understand how popular it is and how much it is used to talk about Ikea and its business model.
However, the claim is completely false. Perhaps, it could be said that it is true but very half. The statement is part of a marketing and advertising campaign that worked very well and that managed to transcend beyond that, as happened, for example, to the famous Blue Monday . If you search Google for Blue Monday, the first thing Google does is tell you when it’s going to be, as if it were a certain date.
In reality, it all started with a press release from a travel search campaign in the early 2000s. The search engine no longer exists, but the day does. The ratio of Europeans conceived in Ikea beds is a bit the same: an investigation by Le Monde has just shown it, going back to find the origin of the data.
The fact that the media was mentioned in articles by renowned media between 2005 and 2011 managed to establish itself as a truth. If the BBC and The New Yorker say so, other journalists should think afterwards, it will be unquestionably true. In reality, the reference media themselves were feeding each other.
The information thus managed to go viral and sneak into the news as a fact. Its origins – Le Monde traced back two decades of newsworthiness – weren’t in the media. They were in a simple advertising slogan.
Europeans conceived in Ikea beds
In 2001, Ikea opened its first store in Russia. The opening – in a town on the outskirts of Moscow – was a great success. People were queuing, there were traffic jams and they managed to connect with the audiences despite the snow. Ikea had swept, but to achieve it had worked campaigning before the opening.
The BBDO agency had run a campaign with different slogans about Ikea. One of them was the one that said, precisely, that one in 10 Europeans was conceived in a giant’s bed. But was it? No. As a slogan it is almost a kind of literary figure, acceptable because we know that advertising plays with exaggerations.
As a repeated fact on the lists of curiosities about life, it is much more questionable. Le Monde got to the origins of the campaign and how they had come up with that data. The agency that developed it explained to them that, although it is all distant, they believed that everything came from the statistical data that the furniture chain had provided.
In their statistics, they indicated that they had 10% of the furniture market. BBDO had turned it into something that would surprise the consumer more. It is what advertising does, in the end, but its hook was such that it ended up sneaking into the news coverage about the reality of the chain.