Ogilvy and Mother on alert as McCann’s Linus Karlsson wins IKEA catalogue foothold

If anyone had suggested a couple of years ago that the revival strategy for McCann Erickson, still just about the biggest agency network in the world, would depend on all things Swedish they would have been greeted with incomprehension, ridicule possibly.

But, lo and behold, it is.

Recently-appointed New York and London chairman and CCO Linus Karlsson (a Swede) has begun his reign by ‘winning’ the IKEA catalogue, showcase for the Swedish furniture giant’s thousands of home products.

IKEA sends out 210m of these every year but it looks as though changes are afoot. This is what the company and Karlsson say.

The assignment will focus on the re-invention of the IKEA catalogue, enhancing it with technology and storytelling. McCann NY will work with ICOM (IKEA’s in-house unit) to evolve and enhance the catalogue, enabling it to continue to be a critical and integrated platform of the IKEA eco-system. The assignment will include reimagining the store environment to include new technologies and experiences. McCann NY will also work closely with ICOM to develop a global integrated campaign to support the launch.

“We choose partners we trust and who understand our brand and where we want to go,” said Lena Simonsson Berge, Head of Global Communications for IKEA. “We found that in Linus and his team at McCann.”

Linus Karlsson, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer for McCann NY and London said, “Part of IKEA’s genius is their applied creativity to everything they do. This is a dream opportunity because it exists on the cutting-edge of media, arts and commerce for a company I know and grew up with. Ultimately, it is about creating a more exciting and useful IKEA experience for many people, and letting the story of IKEA come alive in new ways in the catalogue.”

If you’re none the wiser after this, join the club.

IKEA’s current agencies Ogilvy & Mather in the US and Mother (Karlsson’s former home) in the UK will be more keen than anyone to find out what the Swedish creative wizard has in store.

Mother has already landed one punch on its former US founder by pinching HTC’s £35m account from McCann London before the interpublic agency had even produced a campaign and Karlsson would no doubt delight in responding by winning its chunk of $300m IKEA.

Ogilvy looks most vulnerable though as the catalogue project, whatever it be, is based in New York and the agency recently parted with Lars Bastholm, the key (Swedish) creative on the account.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.