IKEA furniture is known for its affordability, style, and contemporary design sense — not its longevity. But now, with the release of a new ad, the company hopes to change the way we look at their furniture by imagining it in the landfill. IKEA Norway’s “Trash Collection” ad is just the latest in a series of campaigns meant to show the retailer’s efforts to promote sustainable strategies.
In recent years, the Swedish furniture giant has been aiming to rebrand itself as a leader in sustainability and eco-friendly strategy, beginning in 2018 with their “People & Planet” initiative. That plan aims to make the company fully circular by 2030 – an ambitious strategy that commits to designing many of their products with the four R’s in mind: reusing, repairing, repurposing, and recycling.
Earlier this year, IKEA also released an ad depicting a giant meteor of trash hurtling toward Earth, a perfect metaphor for the ever-increasing climate crisis that continues to affect our planet. The only way the meteor could be stopped was for people to change their wasteful ways – through reducing, reusing, and recycling, of course.
As people on Earth begin to change, the meteor starts to break apart, ultimately landing as a plastic bottle that the now environmentally-savvy population immediately recycles. The ad was directed by Tom Kuntz, an American director known for his statement-making commercials, and it certainly makes a statement (namely, that IKEA would be jumping on board the sustainability train). This is a huge and important step for such a large retailer to take, and it’s also a great way to exert its far-reaching influence on its huge customer base by showing that everyone, everyday can take even the smallest steps to live a little more eco-consciously.
IKEA’s newest ad takes the strategy a bit further by showing trash piles filled with — you guessed it — people’s thrown away furniture (with the company’s own offerings spotlighted, naturally). The ad also lists the value of each piece shown, calling attention to our status as a largely throwaway society. Even more importantly, it reminds consumers of how needless waste impacts our communities and neighborhoods, as well as our planet.
Of course, the message isn’t all bleak. As the ad comes to a close, we see the discarded furniture pieces being given new life, transformed through the power of sustainable efforts to repair, recycle, and reuse. Meant to promote the company’s new buy-back program, an innovative idea that offers customers the option of reselling their unwanted furniture in an effort to reduce waste, the ad plays on the retailer’s awareness of its own products’ relatively short lifespans and their subsequent contribution to pollution. Paired with its release of disassembly instructions for some popular products in February, and its offer to supply spare parts at no cost so customers can fix, rather than discard, their broken furniture, IKEA really does seem to be encouraging its customers to live more sustainably and responsibly.
IKEA’s new “Trash Collection” ad is a stark, impactful reminder of our society’s wasteful ways. However, it’s also encouraging and full of hope, as it reminds us that we can all make a difference by being more mindful about our product consumption, and more eco-conscious in our everyday lives.