Ikea this month released an original holiday-themed song as part of a broader campaign that celebrates social gatherings among friends and family who couldn't get together last year due to the pandemic. The new anthem, titled "Feels Just Like a Holiday," marks the first time the world's largest furniture seller developed original music specifically for social video app TikTok.
With lyrics that mention "the glow of those candles from Ikea," the song mostly focuses on the warm and cozy feelings that often come with holiday gatherings. That theme is consistent throughout the brand's broader "Host Masters" campaign, which includes a video series viewers can watch on devices like smartphones. Ikea partnered with mobile video publisher Group Nine Media and Song Candy, a creative agency that produces original songs for brands, to create original content for the "Host Masters" effort. The anthem is grounded in research that shows 65% of TikTok users prefer videos from brands that feature an original sound. In addition, 58% of TikTok users said they felt more connected to brands when the music was enjoyable.
"We do anticipate that this year's holiday will be way different from last year," Christine Whitehawk, marketing communications manager at Ikea U.S., said by email. "People will most likely be gathering — in smaller and careful groups, but the consumer indicators and guidance right now does show that people are comfortable with coming together this year unlike the last holiday."
With its fresh holiday anthem, Ikea becomes the latest marketer to adopt a strategy of audio-based community-building that includes branded songs, albums, mixtapes, playlists, musicals and podcasts. Brands like carmaker Lexus, Mondelez's Oreo cookies, online retailer Lulus and Procter & Gamble's Febreze have adopted musical branding strategies to engage Gen Z consumers as their spending power continues to surge.
"We are looking to connect with those just starting out and perhaps hosting their first holiday get-together, people with families and then even more experienced hosters who may be looking for something new to inspire them this holiday season," Whitehawk said.
'Fragmented media landscape'
On top of the original song, the "Host Masters" effort features a collection of social media stories and a video series co-branded by Ikea and Group Nine's Thrillist lifestyle site. Each episode is hosted by comedian Preacher Lawson and shows two amateurs in a "friendly competition" to be the best holiday host. A design expert from Ikea helps the contestants as they select the retailer's products and arrange them in a mock living room and dining room. Designed for social media, the show offers advice on topics ranging from holiday decorating and how to roast a turkey to how to hug other people again, according to an announcement.
Beyond social media, Ikea's website also shows the episodes and provides links to its online catalog for viewers inspired by the series to browse featured products.
"The media landscape is very fragmented right now and providing entertainment is a key part of what brand marketers must do in order to engage with their audiences," Whitehawk said. "We need to have elements of our marketing communications that allow people to engage with us in a way that feels like they were entertained and enjoyed that time."
Engaging shoppers on mobile devices has become more important for Ikea amid the pandemic-spurred surge in e-commerce. The company saw higher demand for home goods as people set up home offices or bought new furnishings while spending more time indoors. Ikea's global revenue rose 6.3% to $43.4 billion in the financial year ended Aug. 31 despite ongoing constraints on supply chains. Amid stores closures and restrictions on retailers, Ikea's digital business expanded its share of total sales to 30% from 18% a year earlier, according to an announcement.
Since then, the chain has spent the fall season ramping up its holiday marketing. Those efforts include its "Every Home Should Be a Haven" campaign that includes a humorous 60-second spot showing muscular teddy bears guarding a family's home, creating a sanctuary for them to play and relax.
This month's rollout of the "Host Masters" campaign follows Ikea's other efforts to experiment with audio. The company earlier this year tested an interactive audio ad on streaming platform Pandora. The ad invited two-way conversations starting with a message about the retailer's sustainability mission before asking listeners if they wanted to hear tips on eco-conscious living.
Ikea has been at the forefront of piloting new technologies, including its participation in Apple's rollout of ARKit, a set of developer tools to create augmented reality (AR) experiences for mobile users. Its app offered shoppers a way to see how furnishings would look in a room before buying them online.
"We are always looking to show costumers how we can improve their everyday lives in a way that is fun, inspirational, and entertaining," Whitehawk said. "Taking this approach is just one way that aligns to our overall marketing approach to always try new ways to connect with our costumers out in the market."