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)