Did you know that the average price per square foot of a New York City apartment is $693? At that exorbitant rate, residents need to maximize every bit of their precious, and often limited, space. To help design-challenged consumers in the Big Apple and across America, IKEA (the Sweden-based lifestyle home furnishings retailer) created a new approach to design. “Think cubic, not square. Look at your rooms in 3-D, look up and you’ll find lots of beautiful, unused space,” says IKEA in its eye-opening “Think Cubic!” marketing and public relations campaign.
When the company was ready to launch its new 2003 catalogue with the “Think Cubic!” theme, they turned to Jericho Communications for help. Jericho brought the concept to life through a three-city tour of the IKEA “Think Cubic!” Mobile Unit, delivering practical, space-saving design ideas to the streets where consumers could touch, feel and experience the IKEA brand first-hand.
Local residents and press representatives in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., flocked to the events – and more than 20,000 new IKEA 2003 “Think Cubic!” catalogues made their way into the hands of consumers. What’s more, the publicity program’s charity component raised more than $20,000 for Habitat for Humanity, $10,000 in IKEA gift certificates for the House of Ruth, and hundreds of dollars worth of furniture donations for the United Way. A buzz about IKEA surged through the media – and scores of people are now thinking and buying cubic.
The “Think Cubic!” mobile units first rolled into Manhattan’s bustling Union Square Park on August 20th during peak commuter time. Imagine 20-foot and 28-foot trailers fully furnished as compact living quarters. Chock-full of floor-to-ceiling storage and design solutions from the IKEA 2003 “Think Cubic!” catalogue, the trailers actually demonstrated the IKEA “Think Cubic!” design concept.
More than 12,000 New Yorkers enthusiastically toured the units, discovering how to make use of every inch of their living spaces, no matter how small. Fifty-five journalists attended a reception to learn more about the “Think Cubic!” design concept and received press kits packed with design-related information and story ideas.
All returned to their homes with the new 2003 IKEA “Think Cubic!” catalogue – and IKEA donated $1 to Habitat for Humanity (which is dedicated to providing affordable housing to families) for each 2003 catalogue that was distributed.
Media alerts, press releases, and event invitations  were distributed in advance to generate excitement about the event among the print and broadcast media. All press materials communicated the IKEA “Think Cubic!” theme as well as the good-neighbor charity component. WPLJ-FM radio also ran remote announcements; and, on-air personalities promoted the event live throughout the morning and helped to distribute IKEA product giveaways and gift certificates. “Think Cubic!” was a resounding success in the Big Apple, where space is limited but high style flourishes.
 Next stop for the “Think Cubic!” mobile units: Philadelphia on September 19, where a new element was added to the publicity campaign to reel in the local press. The “Couch Potato Freedom” contest challenged 10 local residents to bring their own, old favorite chairs and sit through a 10-hour marathon of Swedish director Ingmar Bergman’s and Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman’s movies.
Those who passed the test received an IKEA POÄNG chair, footstool and rug – and their original chairs were donated to the United Way. A press release focusing on the “Think Cubic!” theme was distributed to home editors, while a release highlighting the “Couch Potato” publicity stunt went out to TV, radio, feature editors, calendar listings, and college newspapers.
Finally, ads ran in local newspapers and flyers were distributed on street corners the night before the event. The IKEA event was the talk of the town in Philly, with thousands of visitors stopping by and all-day television coverage reaching into local living rooms.
On the road again, this time to Washington, D.C., on October 2, the “Think Cubic!” mobile units continued to wow passers-by and the media alike. Press releases and ads  again set the stage. Another “Couch Potato Freedom” challenge took place, this time matched by a donation of $1,000 in IKEA gift certificates per participant to the House of Ruth (which provides services for women and children recovering from homelessness). Once again, Washington tuned in.
Supplementing the tour and to keep the buzz humming about the IKEA “Think Cubic!” products, press packets were distributed to a broad but targeted set of media nationwide, including: newspaper and television home editors, national lifestyle and talk show producers, home furnishings magazines, freelance writers, and a mix of consumer-oriented outlets. The response was outstanding, with requests for products and positive coverage pouring in.
Exposure to the IKEA unique design concept continues to generate a stream of product placements, reaching potential buyers through a wide range of media. What’s more, many of the key journalists were so impressed that they entered IKEA into their rolodexes, and are now contacting IKEA regularly as a story resource.
The carefully planned IKEA special events and nationwide mailing caused a “Think Cubic!” blitz in the media, both in the local and national press. The IKEA U.S. Marketing Manager was widely quoted, instructing consumers on how to “Think Cubic!”: “Go to a room in your home, lie flat on your back and look up. You will see lots of beautiful, unused space – space that’s been hiding in plain sight behind doors, up wall and under beds.”
Creating a buzz about IKEA, more than 45 million media impressions were generated.
More than 20,000 consumers flocked to the “Think Cubic!” mobile units in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., where they learned how to maximize their decorating space with flair. Visitors left the site with an expanded repertoire of space saving design ideas, and returned home with the 2003 IKEA “Think Cubic!” catalogue to peruse at their leisure.
The charity component of the tour raised more than $20,000 for Habitat for Humanity, $10,000 in IKEA gift certificates for the House of Ruth, and hundreds of dollars worth of furniture donations for the United Way. The donations reinforced the IKEA long-standing reputation as a socially responsible corporation that routinely gives back to the community.