CAMPAIGNS: Community Relations - Windy City artfully furnished byIKEA

Client: IKEA (Chicago)

PR Team: Jericho Communications (NYC)

Campaign: Suite Home Chicago "Love Suite"

Time Frame: January-June 2001

Budget: $150,000

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


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