Client: IKEA (Chicago)
PR Team: Jericho Communications (NYC)
Campaign: Suite Home Chicago "Love Suite"
Time Frame: January-June 2001
An annual street arts festival has become a Chicago summer tradition. It
started two years ago with painted cow sculptures appearing on street
corners, and continued in 2000 with ping-pong tables all over the Windy
In the summer of 2001, the city planned to display pieces of furniture
painted by various local artists, calling the effort Suite Home Chicago
- a play on the local blues favorite Sweet Home Chicago.
Furniture retailer IKEA agreed to be an event sponsor. The PR mission
for its agency, Jericho Communications, was to get the media to focus on
IKEA amid a crowd of other sponsors. "Our challenge was to create our
own identity within the campaign the city was running," says Ian
Worling, manager of IKEA's store in suburban Chicago.
IKEA wanted to demonstrate its support of the arts and other local
organizations in the Chicago area, but also wanted to go beyond being a
passive sponsor of Suite Home Chicago. Therefore, Jericho's campaign
would play off a theme common to IKEA's advertising: that IKEA can make
any space livable and fun. Jericho wanted the IKEA suite to involve
active elements that would attract media, and distinguish it from the
scores of other exhibits around the city.
Jericho organized a contest to find two Chicago couples to live in the
"Love Suite" (from June 7-9) that IKEA was sponsoring, and couples
selected would receive $5,000 IKEA gift certificates.
The suite was made up of IKEA furniture and accessories, as well as
pieces designed and painted by local artist Georgan Damore. Each couple
entering the contest was required to write a 150-word paragraph
explaining why they thought they were the quintessential Chicago couple,
and submit it with a picture of their own living room.
A telethon was also planned. For every hour a couple watched TV in the
suite, IKEA promised to donate $125 to the Snow City Arts
Foundation, a local group. Couples were encouraged to invite passersby
to watch TV with them, with IKEA donating $10 for each additional
viewer. "We turned our display into an animated action event," says
Jericho president Eric Yaverbaum. "There were so many reasons for the
press to come."
Jericho distributed a press release in early May announcing the contest.
A second release followed in late May, announcing the unveiling of the
IKEA Love Suite and information about the Snow City Arts Foundation.
Suite Home Chicago started June 1, and is scheduled to end October 13,
but so far, "the campaign has exceeded our wildest expectations," says
Worling. More than 100 entries were received, and the search for two
couples to live in the suite garnered coverage in the Chicago Tribune
and Sun-Times, as well as on local TV station WGN.
The June 7 unveiling of the IKEA suite and its inhabitants was covered
by both major Chicago newspapers and by six local TV stations. The
campaign received 62 media placements, including five articles in the
Tribune, four in the Sun-Times, and an NBC national news feed. More than
10,000 visitors stopped by the IKEA suite, and sales at IKEA's suburban
Chicago store were higher than usual, as were inquiries about possible
openings of other Chicago-area IKEA outlets.
Jericho's PR efforts for IKEA after Suite Home Chicago turned to a
September back-to-school campaign that included a survey of what college
students bring with them to school. That campaign recorded 23 million
media impressions, including coverage by the AP and The Wall Street