‘Shelf Help’

Ikea Singapore’s ‘Shelf Help’ Guru may be Ikea’s cleverest campaign yet.

This character was first introduced by Ikea Singapore a few years earlier in a video ad titled ‘Improve Your Private Life’ and is now reappearing all over Facebook (ADWeek).

Ikea Singapore has recently posted a new Facebook thread asking people to post question about how to improve their homes, but Ikea’s responses are anything but conventional (Time).

The ‘Shelf Help’ Guru plays precariously on the edge of risque with its clear innuendo. Other ads of the same style have been met with backlash from concerned parents who take this type of suggestive humor offensively.

Kmart for example received tidal waves of backlash after the launch of its ‘Big Gas Savings’ ads.

So what’s the difference? Why was Kmart immediately disowned as a family brand name while Ikea has accepted nothing but praise?

I for one can see how the blunt verbal innuendo of Kmart’s ad could be viewed as one step too far. I can imagine the shock on parents faces when their children come running up from the television set asking if they can go to Kmart for its ‘Big Gas Savings’.

That’s the kind of joke any kid would gladly take advantage of and use to bother the heck out of mom.

In Ikea’s ad the ‘Shelf Help’ Guru uses verbal cues to create visual innuendo. Yes, there is a sexual connotation behind almost every joke the Guru makes but maybe it’s subtle enough to not matter. Is this the line between too far and funny?

Looking at this from a PR perspective I would have been cautious with this role out. Have my crisis plan in hand ready for that one mom who can’t take a joke, but so far it seems the ‘Shelf Help’ Guru is a hit.


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