Die Biedermeier AGIKEA® 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).

(Pho­tos: qujOchÖ)