It is often very challenging for established companies to make a noticeable impact with their advertising that both inspires their existing audience and encourages more people to choose their products. This is especially true for a company like IKEA, which releases a large number, and variety, of different commercial material every year. So, it makes sense that IKEA wanted to do something different with one of their more recent campaigns, called the Time Travel Experiments. But, as we’re going to explore, change can be risky and it doesn’t always pay off.
IKEA ran the Time Travel Experiments almost like a mini-movie. They released a teaser trailer a week before release, and the video above as the first part of an online video series. From the trailer, we get a better idea of the entirety of the ‘web series’, which brings in a few different couples who have agreed to be hypnotized. The idea seems solid, IKEA brings people forward into their own lives amidst the stability, familiarity and longevity of their IKEA furniture. However, the first video shows famed hypnotist Justin Tranz bringing one particular couple through a positively hellish set of experiences that has us thinking twice about the entire campaign.
So Does It Work?
To be quite honest, there are certain aspects of this campaign that can be viewed from a perspective of success. In some sections, we’re looking at the Time Travel Experiments and saying yes, this is definitely working. But, there are different perspectives on those same aspects that we’re happy to say don’t work at all.
The Hypnosis: In terms of novelty and innovation, the idea of hypnotizing IKEA shoppers into thinking that they’re living in their own futures, surrounded by the furniture they may very well be shopping for, is a great idea. For its uniqueness alone, it definitely works.
But the problem with hypnosis is that there will always be skeptics, even more so when you’re viewing the hypnosis at a distance. As the web series isn’t live, there’s no way for the audience to really see authenticity through the cuts and edits. In that way, the basic premise of the campaign’s success is undermined.
The Situations: The first couple in IKEA’s Time Travel Experiments don’t seem to have much to look forward to in their hypnotized future. Their daughter is demanding and pushy as a child, and she grows up to fall in love with her yoga instructor who is a passionate domestic nudist. In some ways, this situation is hilarious, but when we’re sitting watching the video, something is missing. Maybe it’s because the hypnotized subjects appear to have a slower response time, or maybe it’s because it’s just a little unbelievable, but the video quickly loses its engaging qualities.
Additionally, it makes little sense to portray IKEA furniture as the backdrop for such horrible life experiences. As the humor of the scenes doesn’t carry very well, the negativity that the situations encourage does fall on the surrounding glory of the IKEA showrooms.
The Form: Web series have worked in the past for a variety of brands and businesses, and their versatility makes them a smart choice for a diverse range of campaigns. With the web series, IKEA has the chance to really branch out much further than a commercial might offer. The first part of the video is nearly 4 minutes long, and IKEA also ran the 1:40 minute teaser trailer and some extra features like a 2:28 minute explanation of hypnosis from Justin Tranz.
But we can’t ignore the facts: 4 minutes is a long time to keep an audience interested, and although IKEA has tried to create an engaging narrative, the gaps mean some people are just missing the boat.
IKEA has worked to create a funny and engaging snapshot of a life on the backdrop of their famous showrooms, and although we certainly commend their effort and the innovation, we’re thinking that Time Travel Experiments needs to reverse itself back to the drawing board.