Creative Director’s Choice: Will Gelner of Engine on Ikea’s grime holiday spot


Creative Director’s Choice gives creative directors a chance to highlight the best workaround and spotlight campaigns that are making a difference.

Will Gelner, chief creative officer at Engine US, talks about why the UK has a lock on holiday advertising, thanks to Ikea’s ‘Silence the Critics’ animated grime ad.

When it comes to holiday advertising, many brands go full tearjerker. They unite family members and doe-eyed reindeer and mangers and figgy pudding in winter wonderlands that would make Ebenezer Scrooge weep.

Ikea stands out in this crowded field of treacly peppermint candy canes set to a soundtrack of holiday standards by creating holiday messaging that is funny, fresh and different — and totally on brand — and addressing the issue of how one can bring a less-than-pristine pad up to holiday party code with cool, inexpensive furniture and accessories that provide cover for clutter and flaws.

In the spot, a family is chilling in their sloppy home when various knickknacks come to life and start rapping about how messy the house is. The tune is Fresh N Clean (Silence the Critics) by artist D Double E — who’s part of the British grime scene, a style of EDM that shares qualities with rap. A buck-toothed rabbit pitcher, a Lucky Cat figurine, a set of sad snail salt and pepper shakers, a mallard umbrella handle, and a girl on a swing that hangs under a cuckoo clock are just some of the characters that taunt them.

The bewildered family takes in the bizarre holiday miracle as the animated porcelain doodads diss their grimy house. Standout lyric: “It’s like somebody hit it with a bulldozer. If your house was a car it would get pulled over.” People are digging the song so much that they wanted to hear a full-length version. It’s now being released.

It’s a well-crafted, original piece based off of great insight: You want to invite people over but worry that your house isn’t holiday ready. The idea certainly motivates the family to hit the local Ikea and modernize their pad with throw rugs, wall art and furniture containing storage space to help them transform their hovel into a modern home.

In a sea of sweet sameness, of sappy and sentimental, Ikea went edgy and funny. I think the spot is an absolute joy to watch over and over again. It makes me laugh when everyone else is trying to make me cry. And, I’m an ugly crier.

Will Gelner is chief creative officer at Engine US, with offices in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago.

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About Author

Kyle O'Brien

I am a reporter for The Drum covering a wide array of topics but always trying to tell the best stories possible. I am a former west coaster from California and Portland, Oregon, now living in Pennsylvania — with time spent in NYC each week. I also play saxophone professionally.

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