- Ikea has tapped Linus Karlsson as chief creative officer (CCO), a newly formed position that spans design, product development and marketing and communications, according to a company announcement.
- Karlsson has consulted with the Swedish home goods retailer on projects since 2012, acting at times as guest speaker, creative leader and content partner. Now, he's tasked with setting a creative vision across Ikea's range of products and communications, while also serving as a motivator for employees and collaborative partners.
- With the appointment, Ikea looks to keep pace with fast-moving consumer trends for the home, with the pandemic resetting expectations for the category. The news offers another signal that marketers are finding fresh footholds in corporate leadership as companies try to balance short-term business goals with larger brand-building ambitions.
Ikea is rounding out its marketing leadership with the introduction of a CCO that oversees several key functions for the brand, including product development and communications. Hybrid marketing roles have grown more common in recent years as business has shifted to digital and data-driven channels that can be more closely linked to sales outcomes.
A CCO might help Ikea streamline its operations while better catering to consumer needs that are changing quickly with the pandemic, which has kept people cooped up at home and in remote working environments. Product development and marketing have increasingly bled together in retail, resulting in buzzy celebrity collaborations and capsule collections. In 2019, Ikea debuted a limited-edition line created with Off-White and Louis Vuitton designer Virgil Abloh.
On the operational end, Ikea has recently ramped up its focus on e-commerce, a channel it previously had been slower to adopt than rivals. Some critics have found Ikea's offerings on the online shopping front lacking. Other changes to Ikea's strategy include the sunsetting of its catalog, which had been in production for seven decades, late last year. The retailer is broadly pushing to be more "digital and accessible," it has said.
Karlsson, who grew a reputation in the agency space for his work at shops like Crispin Porter Bogusky and Mother, a firm which he co-founded, sees a larger convergence occurring between product development and marketing, he told The Wall Street Journal in an interview around the new appointment. He indicated that silos can create weakness in an organization.
Karlsson's duties speak to how marketers are increasingly acting as internal motivators, along with executing traditional consumer-facing messaging strategies. Ikea at the same time has staked a bigger claim in purpose-driven marketing that speaks to timely social issues. Earlier this month, the brand created a digital card game for Instagram Stories that focused on gender inequality in household work, a disparity exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.