In Ikea Sweden’s latest spot, “A Good Listener,” a familiar family drama unfurls.
You don’t get all the details, but you know the code: A teenage daughter, increasingly agitated for mysterious reasons, returns home every day and locks herself in her room. Her father sits just outside, waiting for the day she’s ready to let him in.
Then, shockingly, there’s a product plug:
Brand: Ikea Sweden
Agency: Åkestam Holst
Yes, the Oddvar stool, on which the father is perched—is going for 79 Swedish krona (about $8.50). Pick up one today!
Time has shown us many sides to Ikea, which has been brought to life by a panoply of agencies. Mother London gave it a catchy beat with trendy spots like “Kitchen Party,”featuring Jona Lewie. Crispin Porter + Bogusky bequeathed it quirkiness with the memorable “Lamp” ad by Spike Jonze. Buzzman Paris lent it familial pathos with “My Son.”
But agency Åkestam Holst in Sweden, which created this spot, gives it yet another dimension.
If you watch it in a hurry, the ad risks looking more generic—even clumsy, with that Oddvar price slam—than we’re used to. But “A Good Listener” requires time and an attentive watch. It’s guiding us down a new path, one whose voice tells us that life at home isn’t always about laughing around the table or sharing poignant moments.
This is part of the brand’s “Where Life Happens” campaign, which last manifested in “Every Other Week,” another quiet piece, which explored divorce without trying to tweak our emotions. “A Good Listener” is a similar kind of animal: It’s often said that fathers and daughters have a special kind of relationship, and here we see the moment when, in adolescence, that relationship begins to break down.
It’s a period that’s inexplicably painful for both sides, a time when gender is beginning to matter in ways it didn’t before, heralding a need to hide things but also convey problems now too complicated to solve with a Full House hug. They demarcate the start of adulthood, a drifting apart that won’t end here.
All this is most meaningfully expressed in what’s not said: The girl who stares at the door. The father whose face is twisted in incomprehension and growing agony. Then there’s the waiting—the slavish, martyrlike waiting of a loved one who has nothing else to offer. It’s an act that’s easy for a child in a violent state to hate, partly because of how much it hurts.
In this context, that plug for the stool begins to make sense. What it tells us is that Ikea knows buying its products won’t guarantee happiness, a perfect home or a better life—an advertising antithesis. Sometimes they’ll be silent supports, steady witnesses in human drama, and hopefully also in resolution … the moment the girl finally opens the door.
A good listener, in other words. All for just $8.50.
The spot premiered last week in Sweden