A new IKEA advertisement published in Swedish women magazine Amelia continues the store’s long and proud tradition of quirky, if controversial, ads.
So what’s so life-changing about an ad? Urine.
Yes, you read that right — urine. The first page of the magazine asks women to pee inside (on?) it with gusto. But, unbeknownst to the reader, the magazine has a rather creative, if somewhat questionable, surprise for those who follow the instruction. Embedded inside the magazine is a redesigned ELISA pregnancy test that, if positive, displays a reduced price of a crib. Nothing more fascinating than that.
It all started with the brilliant advertising minds from the Swedish ad agency Akestam Holst. Looking for a way to shock Scandinavian women into buying furniture from IKEA, they started a collaboration with Mercene Labs to merge science and marketing. Thus, the uncommon pregnancy test was “born”.
How does it actually work?
ELISA stands for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. All those fancy words translate to a simpler concept: a test which changes color in the presence of certain antibodies used to identify a substance. In our case, the sought-after substance is a hormone: human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).
HCG is produced by the placenta after an embryo’s implantation in the uterine wall. It’s the most common hormone used for early-stage pregnancy tests.
A little less known fact is that hCG is also synthesized by some cancerous tumors, and taking a fun, random pregnancy test that turns out positive might actually lead to cancer diagnosis. The agency, in this unintentional way, might even save some lives with their ad.
This is not the first time IKEA came up with controversial ads. In a 2013 Thailand TV commercial, a couple is portrayed going shopping at an IKEA store. When the girl sees the low prices, she suddenly drops her voice a few octaves.
The Thai Transgender Alliance was offended and said the ad was “a gross violation of human rights”.
Another disastrous IKEA campaign was released back in 2012 when all the women from the Saudi Arabia catalog were photoshopped out of the pictures.
But unlike those mishaps, this is actually an insightful and creative way of promoting products.