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Behind IKEA’s Breast Cancer Awareness Cushion


Leo Burnett Saudi Arabia’s chief creative officer Mohammed Bahmishan and creative director Mohammed Sehly told LBB’s Zoe Antonov more about the creation of the cushion that helps women with their self-examinations

Behind IKEA’s Breast Cancer Awareness Cushion

Early detection of breast cancer is the most efficient way to stop it from spreading and causing further damage to the body – this is why the dedication to spreading awareness and education on early detection is crucial in saving lives. In fact, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in Saudi Arabia, yet there is a lack of information which is why Leo Burnett Saudi Arabia teamed up with IKEA to design a cushion with a mission. IKEA’s popular ‘Kransborre’ cushion was designed to educate women on the importance of self-examination all year long and as a call for action for women to check on themselves more frequently than just once a year. 

The cushion still functions as it should, but has a lifelike lump inside of it – a reminder that breast cancer is detectable and we all need to pay attention to ourselves. With this project, IKEA managed to strike the balance between a pressing global health issue that needs to be addressed, while tackling it in a culturally sensitive way. The ‘Kransborre’ limited-edition cushions were distributed during Breast Cancer Awareness month and will now live in people’s homes year-round.

Mohammed Bahmishan, chief creative officer and Mohammed Sehly, creative director at Leo Burnett Saudi Arabia told LBB’s Zoe Antonov more about this important campaign.

LBB> What was the brief for the campaign like and how did the discussions around it get to the final idea?

Leo Burnett Saudi Arabia> It was a regular breast cancer awareness brief: our challenge was how can we link it to the IKEA brand and its brand purpose, which is “to create a better everyday life for the many people.

LBB> How destigmatized are the issues around breast cancer in Saudi Arabia?

Leo Burnett Saudi Arabia> It’s less of a stigma and more of a cultural reservation to discuss issues related to women’s bodies. Due to our Saudi cultural norms, it is still not a topic to discuss openly and publicly. This means Saudi women are only reminded to do their check-ups once per year during annual breast cancer awareness campaigns. We wondered if we could find a way to remind women of the importance of early detection throughout the year. Cushions are part of our furniture, so why not use them as a call-to-action?

LBB> Do you think the creative industries have a duty to spread awareness and how big do you think their role is in the further destigmatizing of the issues surrounding breast cancer?

Leo Burnett Saudi Arabia> Creativity has the power to transform human behaviour and this should be the purpose of any idea creatives come up with. In this case, it was our role to care less about any stigma, but to drive Saudi women towards testing in the most culturally accepted way.

LBB> How did you manage to strike the balance between educating, while still being culturally appropriate?

Leo Burnett Saudi Arabia> Of course, talking about such an issue represents a challenge for any creative due to the cultural fences. Hence, we chose the rounded ‘Kransborre’ cushion from IKEA to be the medium – it felt like the right way to deliver such a message in a way that’s surprising, but impactful. As part of people’s homes, each cushion is now a reminder to check for lumps year-round.

LBB> What was the development of the cushion like? 

Leo Burnett Saudi Arabia> The development consisted of three steps: we crafted an impactful and relevant message to be etched on the cushion itself. Secondly, we inserted a life-like lump to surprise women whenever they touch the cushion, mimicking exactly the self-examination steps, due to the shape of the cushion. Finally, we actually replaced the cushion’s regular tags with tags demonstrating the self-examination steps. 

LBB> What has the response of audiences been since the launch of the campaign?

Leo Burnett Saudi Arabia> The reaction was immediate in the store, we were surprised to see how many women got the message instantly, sometimes with some emotion.

LBB> When will the cushions be available and for how long?

Leo Burnett Saudi Arabia> The limited-edition cushions are being distributed across all IKEA stores in Saudi Arabia. Now that they are part of people’s homes, we hope they’ll become an ongoing awareness tool and a visual prompt to positively change behaviour.

LBB> Any final thoughts?

Leo Burnett Saudi Arabia> Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in Saudi Arabia, so it’s an important challenge to solve. We hope this limited-edition cushion will keep on reminding women to overcome their fear of detecting breast cancer, educate them, and pass on the message that early detection saves lives.
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Leo Burnett Saudi Arabia, Thu, 23 Dec 2021 13:34:05 GMT