IKEA assembles new agency relationship with Leo Burnett

IKEA Canada has appointed Toronto-based agency Leo Burnett as its new creative agency of record, beating out four other unnamed agencies during the three-month review.

IKEA Canada has appointed Toronto-based Leo Burnett as its new creative agency of record, beating out three other unnamed shortlisted agencies during a three-month review.

The home furnishings retailer kicked off the search late November when it approached 16 agencies, asking each of them to prepare a video case study outlining their retail experience with a specific focus on the female demographic.

“It’s important we have female touch on our work and we really felt from them that they understood our customer and understood our brand,” said Thom Kyle, vice-president, IKEA Canada

In addition, each shop was asked to produce a 10-minute video that gave a behind-the-scenes look at how they approach client partnerships, while also highlighting the agency team and culture.

“The thing about Leo Burnett that impressed us was, all along, the way they just did a fantastic job on delivering what we asked for,” said Kyle. “They were super strong on strategy but they were also strong on creative execution… We’re not an agency jumper. We’re in this for the long term so we wanted to make sure we found someone who understood how we work, that could work with us and understand our brand.”

“We talked a lot about shared values and philosophies of Leo Burnett and IKEA,” said Judy John, chief creative officer, Leo Burnett. “The founder of IKEA and our founder, Leo Burnett, had similar work ethics and styles and were very humble.”

“IKEA is a company that has a very clear brand purpose and that’s well published—improving people’s lives and that very much synchs up with how we approach brand strategy,” said Dom Caruso, agency president and COO who joined the agency in January (a month before his originally scheduled start date).

“It made sense given the process and duration of it,” said Caruso.

Leo’s hiring ends a seven-year partnership between IKEA and Crispin Porter + Bogusky (CPB) Toronto, which was known as Zig when the two companies first started working together.

CPB Toronto declined to participate in the review. In January, the agency’s CEO Shelley Brown told Marketing: “We have, at this point, a really specific new business strategy. We’re going after really specific domestic business where we think we can do fantastic work,” citing the example of its then-newly won Toronto Tourism account.

“We’ve had the IKEA business for seven years and had some fantastic success on that brand,” Brown said. “We wish them well. We’ll have a really smooth and respectful transition with the new agency, and we expect they’ll go on to do great work with whoever IKEA decides to work with.”

Zig’s work for IKEA garnered numerous awards including a Webby, Marketing Awards, and a Gold in Cannes in 2008 for the “Low Voice” radio ad, and helped set a strong tone for the retailer.

IKEA is a “brand that has a very clear personality and there’s a great legacy with the work they’ve done,” said Caruso, and for that reason there are no plans to radically change its marketing voice. There will, however, be an effort to expand its digital program.

This marks the retailer’s second agency shift this year. In January, IKEA announced it retained Rocket XL as its social media agency of record without a review.

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