Die Biedermeier AG – IKEA® as a Construction of Global Desire

Photographic work and intervention

October 2007

Criticism of globalization again – no. Although IKEA® is a multi national, worldwide operating major corporation which can be mentioned in the same breath with brands like McDonalds or Coca Cola and has to fight with the same medial transported problems like child labour or low-wage-production-sites it has decisively changed its advertising strategy in recent years.

Placing ads in every single important media and in public places seems to tie hands otherwise even critical media while the customers already are asking themselves where the flying christmas trees have gone.

The nice elk has been dropped for the technic conveying allen key in the mid-1990s. Step by step the corporate communication focussed on alternative consumers has been lovelized and adapted to a style based more on a conservative view of life. IKEA® – the student prime designer is not hands-on, chummy and casual any longer but considers itself as a hardware provider for the holy family. The home, the family, joyful weekends at home – mediated with commercials in heavy rotation. Domestic uniform – global and zeitgeisty. IKEA® produces a “pure act in the light of mild transfiguration” (based on Johann Peter Eckermann) for its worldwide shoppers.

The catalogue, setting new records, generates an idyllic, clean, imaginary authentic reality – produced at the biggest photo studio of Europe. Slogans promise individual living – delivered by the worlds biggest household furniture brand. What theoretically has to be a joke works out terrific in practice. Especially the advertising strategy has helped IKEA® getting into its nowadays market position. With this strategy and copies of the catalogue which compete with the Bible or Harry Potter the advertising line of IKEA® produces more than just marketing for the company. Not only a selection of products is mediated to a worldwide audience by following political trends but a whole concept of life that conjures up the retreat into the private sphere and the idealized concept of the holy family. The subliminal image messages within ads and spots and the empathic texting force the conclusion of a new awakening of the withdrawal into the home – Homing at it’s best.

Life is outside.

The photographic work has been realized with kindly support of the Arge für Obdachlose (association of the homeless people).

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(Photos: qujOchÖ)