Why Ikea’s Latest Ad Campaign Is Genius AF

ikea, pets, marketing, puppies, kitties, digital marketing, ad campaign
photo credit: Ikea

What’s new, pussycat?

Well, if you ask Ikea, the answer is lots of extra eyes — and awws — looking at the paws in its latest ad campaign, “Don’t Worry, You Can Afford It.”

The campaign, which debuted in March, highlights just how affordable Ikea’s products are, next to criminally cute snaps of dogs and cats posing next to the “crime scene” of broken or torn-apart Ikea goods. Pet owners can relate to coming home to a wagging tail next to a ripped-to-shreds throw cushion that you bought like … yesterday. Oh, Fido!

“We are excited about this campaign, which, on one hand, brings the unskippable cuteness of pets, and on the other hand, challenges marketing conventions by showing the products damaged,” said Tobias Ahrens, global CCO of Ingo Hamburg, the agency behind the campaign. “[It’s] an honest story that refreshes the usual Ikea price communication style.”

The campaign goes against the grain of a long-held marketing belief.

Ingo creative directors Fernando Montero and Nicolás López add: “Breaking one of the most important marketing rules — which is showing the product at its best — was a challenge that the client decided to take on as they felt that the idea communicated affordability through a quite fresh point of view.”

The Power of Pets in Marketing

By featuring the pets in its ads, Ikea, which has increasingly gone global with its marketing efforts in recent months, pulled a power move that has long proven as a profitable marketing tool. Simply because, even when they’re bad to the bone, pets rule and they’re super cute. 

Pets are also marketing gold because as of 2024, 66% of U.S. households, or 86.9 million homes, own a pet. In the U.S., dogs are the most popular pet, with 65.1 million U.S. households owning a dog, followed by cats, who call 46.5 million households home. In 2023 alone, analysts estimate pet owners spent $143.6 billion.

Joining Ikea in the pet space are:

  • Subaru performed the same trick when it rolled out its “Dog Tested, Dog Approved” marketing campaign, which featured Labradors jumping behind the wheel and doing human things like going on camping adventures.
  • Budweiser tugged at heartstrings with its Super Bowl 48 “Puppy Love” commercial that featured a Lab puppy escaping its kennel to befriend a Clydesdale.
  • Taco Bell saw its cute Chihuahua, Gidget, become an iconic figure in advertising. Despite a lawsuit over copyright claims, Gidget helped boost Taco Bell’s brand awareness significantly, leading to massive merchandise sales. Gidget’s appeal was so strong that she continued to appear in various commercials and even landed a cameo in Legally Blonde 2, demonstrating the lasting impact a well-chosen pet mascot can have on brand recognition​​.

These examples prove the powerful emotional connection pets can create in advertising, helping brands to not only enhance their visibility but also to establish a deeper relationship with their audience and helps convey messages of warmth, trust, and loyalty, attributes often associated with pets. 

Hit Like! More Cuteness, More Engagement

Pets significantly enhance engagement in advertising, as a recent study reveals. Instagram content featuring pets can see up to 295% more comments (as JetBlue has, according to a study by newswhip.com) and a 19% increase in likes on average.
Diving into the world of Instagram and pets, it’s clear: More cuteness equals more engagement. This trend spans various industries, highlighting pets’ universal appeal. From luxury auctions at Sotheby’s to tech companies and beyond, fluffy friends not only fetch likes; they also deepen consumer-brand connections. It’s a simple equation: pets in posts = a boost in brand engagement, proving that on social media, our love for animals translates into tangible metrics for brands​. 

Leveraging Pet Influencers: Brands’ New Best Friends

Pet influencer marketing has become a game changer, with furry celebrities making significant impacts. For instance, Marnie the Dog, who boasts a following 2 million strong thanks to her distinctive tongue-out pose, not only captured hearts, but also partnerships with brands like JetBlue, showcasing the power of pet influencers in driving brand engagement and loyalty.

Nipping at Marnie’s heels is Loki the Wolfdog, who has been busy lending his furry mug to Toyota. Loki’s adventurous posts resonate with outdoor and travel enthusiasts all 1.9 million of them on her Instagram, highlighting how authentically aligning a brand with a pet influencer’s persona can captivate a wide audience and boost revenue. These partnerships underscore the potent blend of cuteness and influencer reach in modern marketing strategies.

The strategic incorporation of pets into marketing campaigns, as seen with Ikea and other major brands, underscores a universal truth: The allure of pets is undeniable in forging emotional connections with consumers. Through creative storytelling and the leveraging of pet influencers, these campaigns have not only garnered significant engagement, but also enhanced brand affinity across diverse industries. This trend, supported by compelling data, highlights pets’ invaluable role in enriching brand narratives, making it clear that when brands choose to “paws” and embrace our furry friends, engagement and loyalty inevitably follow.

Triple7Marketing is a pet-friendly marketing firm. If you’re interested in unleashing some four-legged cuteness in your next marketing campaign, we can help. But that new rug of yours, well … let’s just hope it’s an Ikea one. 

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