IKEA’s Preroll Ads Are So Boring That They’re Pure Genius

Ushnota Paul, November 3, 2017

What happens when a brand uses reverse psychology on its consumers to not skip ads? IKEA has hit the ball out of the park with its latest campaign…


The year is 2017. In a day and age where people have no time to stop and look at what your brand has to say, it’s brave of IKEA to come up with pre-roll advertisements as long as even 8:50 minutes. One of the most popular ways of video advertising, a pre-roll plays before the content the user has selected, on say, a platform like YouTube. We wait impatiently for the allotted five seconds to pass so that we can skip the ad and move on with our lives. IKEA, that follows the philosophy “Where Life Happens,” has come up with a set of most boring and long YouTube preroll ads. But, it works. How, you wonder?

As opposed to other brands that try to capture your attention by any means in as short a time as possible, IKEA does the exact opposite. Their interminably long ads show how boring our regular lives are. It’s so ‘normal’, so ‘everyday regular’ that you’re surprised that unlike other brands, why aren’t they trying to capture all your attention in a span of five seconds in a YouTube TrueView ad? And while you’re wondering, you’re already engaged in the lives of these strangers. In all the three ads, the characters actually beg you to skip the ad so that they can get back to doing whatever boring things they were doing in their day-to-day lives. But you’re so involved by then, that you simply don’t listen to them and continue watching. And to rub it in, let me add, all the ads are over 4 minutes long!

The first ad shows a grumpy teenager doing the dishes. He’s bored. He’s moody. And he definitely wants you to skip the ad so that he can go back to doing his chore. He continues cleaning and even feeds his pet some leftover food from the dirty dishes. Somewhere in the middle he looks straight at you and even asks don’t you have anything better to do than watching him do dishes? You let the jibe pass. Towards the end, he stares long and hard at you almost for a minute, making his displeasure very clear. You shamelessly stare back. And in this course of 4:29 minutes, IKEA literally advertises only one of its products – a RANARP pendant lamp for 299. You realise that you’ve watched the entire thing only after it gets over.

In the second ad, a bunch of young friends are arm wrestling each other at a bar, lamely hyping up the stakes each time. They’re bored. You can see it. The ad is almost 6 minutes long. And you watch it till the very end, long after the bunch of friends have switched off the lights and already left the place. Again, in that entire duration, IKEA advertises only one of their products – a NORAKKER bar table, that too right at the beginning of the ad.

The last ad is 8:50 minutes long, almost as long as a short film. Two teens try making out but the girl is clearly uncomfortable, because you’re watching them kiss in their drawing room. ‘You can skip the ad now. This is kind of private,’ says the girl, a little irritably. But it’s so engaging that you forget what video you actually came to watch in the first place. In the end, she leaves the boy’s house because the pervert ‘audience’ won’t stop ogling. ­The boy sleeps alone on the couch with the TV on, hugging his pillow (MAJBRITT cushion cover for 49 bucks). The video also advertises a three-seat sofa, a coffee table, a work lamp, a frame, a 6 pack glass set and a candlestick.

Made by the agency Åkestam Holst and directed by Martin Werner, a whopping 39 percent watched an ad in its entirety and the average viewing rate was for three minutes. This, at an age, when brands can’t hold a consumer’s attention for even seconds, be it in television or YouTube. We are just used to skipping and moving on. But in this case, you just keep watching the pointless ads transfixed like a voyeur intruding a bunch of strangers’ privacy. Is it the voyeuristic approach or is it the tactful use of reverse psychology? Whatever it is, IKEA’s latest preroll advertisements have achieved something that most brands fail to do these days – engage the consumers for a really, really long period of time, without even forcing them to. And for that, they deserve all the accolades.