Silence The Critics.
Image Credit: IKEA UK
D Double E, home improvement and the temporary suspension of cynicism.
Whoever had the idea of commissioning and/or persuading D Double E to write a bespoke track for a home improvement ad is clearly a special intellect. They might not have known quite how great it would turn out to be – how satisfying it would be to watch a ceramic panda say ‘disss-gust-ting’ or the joy of a small plastic dinosaur saying ‘Ba da bap bap’ before disappearing into an ottoman – but they obviously knew more than enough.
Whether this ad helped Ikea shift a load of chevron rugs and plywood-rimmed mirrors in anticipation of relatives coming round for Christmas (which presumably was the masterplan), or whether, like me, it just made you reassess your feelings about ornamental animals, only time will tell. But could anybody honestly say that they didn’t just like everybody involved a little bit more after watching? And that includes the brand behind it.
Even allowing for the fact that D Double E critiquing knackered interiors and then channelling his voice through animated household clutter is a total bullseye in terms of everything I personally want from an ad, and that all of that is essentially down to the creative production of it, ultimately, the glory belongs to retailers of well-priced furniture – they get to put their logo at the end. In other words, even though I know Ikea’s actual input is unlikely to extend to stumping up the cash and signing off the idea, the ad – like all the best ones do – somehow circumnavigates (my) cynicism and gives you (me) no option but to like them more. They’ve hard-earned that upward line on the ‘brand sentiment’ graph. And they’ve also proved why such ads are still worth bothering with.
But if it’s actually possible to put aside the commercials of a medium actually known as ‘commercials’, it’s worth looking at how clever and multifaceted the creative concept is. It’s fundamentally accessible, totally mainstream, and yet built on niche, non-mainstream influences – from letting a known-but-not-that-known grime stalwart lead the narrative, to the core idea of using a genre that traditionally terrifies a significant proportion of the population as an expression of kitchen sink everyday domesticity. That’s much bolder than it might seem in hindsight – it could easily have come off as cringey middle-class appropriation. But it didn’t – it came off as excellent. In fact, as with a lot of great work, it’s that underlying potential for this to have been really bad – and the creative anxiety that must have caused in the making – that in the end makes it quite so good.
By this point you’ve probably got the idea: I really like this ad. But I want to make a last point to explain why I’m prepared to risk hyperbole and deem it the best ad ever – better than those white horses in the surf, than any mawkish John Lewis assault on your tear ducts, better even than the glorious Aardman Resolva Weed Killer ad of 2008 (“ello mate”).
That point is this: if you were to remove the advertising element, or at least remove any awareness that this has been created in order to encourage you to buy something, I think this ad still stands up as entertainment. Something to enjoy by choice; something you might actively seek out. And if you agree with me on that; and your pomposity threshold isn’t too severe, then what we’re really talking about is a bit of commercial art that has transcended its medium – if only in the mind of one excitable copywriter.
And in this industry, when creativity and commercialism rarely align, a reminder that it’s possible is very welcome.