IKEA Canada and the team at Rethink speak to Addison Capper about an epic one-take spot crafted with director Adam Berg and DOP Linus Sandgren
As a singular citizen of this rather large world, it can often feel difficult to make a difference. IKEA Canada wants to change that with its new campaign 'One Little Thing'. The spot is the third in three years from the brand and its agency Rethink that focuses on building a more sustainable world, building on the premise laid out in 'Lamp 2' and 'Stuff Monster'.
The strategy behind One Little Thing is interesting because, instead of focusing mostly on IKEA's sustainable practices as a brand, it uses its message to inspire Canadians to do their part and convince them that, no matter how small an act, any act makes a difference.
The campaign's central spot is a beautiful, one-take feat that was directed by Adam Berg via Smuggler@SoftCitizen. It opens on a woman screwing an IKEA RYET LED light bulb into an overhead hanging light fixture in a luscious forest. As the camera begins to pull back, it reveals more people doing the same thing, as the forest gets illuminated by different lights turning on. From there the spot ventures into a field with bunches of people performing simple sustainable tasks from their daily routines, like composting, drying their laundry outside, gardening and installing solar panels. It was shot in Sweden, the home of both IKEA and director Adam. The team also worked with Oscar-winning DOP Linus Sandgren.
To find out more about the insight behind the idea and the challenge of pulling it off during Covid, LBB's Addison Capper spoke to IKEA Canada’s head of marketing Johanna Andrén, and Rethink’s Joel Holtby, partner creative director and art director, Dhaval Bhatt, creative director and writer, Shereen Ladha, strategy director, and Sarah Riedlinger, group account director.
LBB> What kind of brief was there for this campaign? And what were your main aims and ambitions for it?
Johanna> At IKEA we are very strongly committed to a more sustainable planet. Right from how we source our materials to how our products are made, we are transforming our business to be ever more sustainable. But that is just one side of the coin. We also want to inspire and enable people to see that their small everyday actions are also equally important in the fight against climate change.
When it came to writing the brief, we worked with Rethink to co-write the brief. They’ve been on this journey with us for the past three years, as we’ve worked to champion sustainability in our brand work.
Our main goal for this campaign was to inspire our consumers to make small changes that allow them to live a more sustainable life. We believe small changes add up to ultimately change the world.
Joel> IKEA and Rethink are true partners - we actually co-wrote the brief and worked on the strategy together to identify what the first chapter in IKEA’s ‘leap year of sustainability’ would look like. We’re entering our fourth year in anchoring our brand communications around IKEA’s commitment to the planet. There has been a consistent thread around circularity and sustainability in previous work like ‘Lamp Recycled’ and ‘Stuff Monster.’
LBB> As you’ve mentioned, the strategy is focused on encouraging consumers to act more sustainably, instead of specifically highlighting IKEA's sustainability. Can you elaborate a bit further on why that was the right approach?
Johanna> Both are equally important. From our research, we knew that many people want to change their behaviour in relation to sustainability but they don’t know what to do in order to make an impact. We wanted to create a campaign that shows consumers that living sustainably doesn’t need to be overwhelming, it can be as simple as one small act.
In the spot we wanted to show acts that involve IKEA solutions like the RYET LED bulb, FRAKTA reusable bag and our range of water saving taps in addition to other actions that don’t involve us, like riding your bike instead of taking the car.
LBB> What kind of research informed that strategy?
Johanna> We were able to leverage different news articles and studies as well as research from GlobeScan that was facilitated by IKEA global. Research continued to confirm the insight that many Canadians want to change their behaviour to be more sustainable, but many aren’t sure that their individual actions can make a difference.
Shereen> Both are important. Our research revealed that consumers expect brands to act and make commitments toward a more sustainable future, but also are looking to brands to help them make these choices and incorporate sustainability into their daily lives and in their homes.
LBB> I am trying to make changes to live more sustainably, and, truthfully, it can feel quite meaningless at times - how is my cutting down on meat or cycling to work going to make a difference in this huge world? And it feels like bigger entities - namely brands and governments - should and could be doing more. Obviously, IKEA is only one brand within that huge world, but did this ever cross your mind when developing the campaign? If so, what kind of conversations did you have around it?
Johanna> From furniture to food, production to home delivery and energy to investments, IKEA’s sustainability commitments are at the heart of our business transformation, including the ambition to be fully circular and climate positive by 2030. At the same time, IKEA has a responsibility to ensure sustainable living is both affordable and accessible to Canadians. We can all feel like our individual actions are insignificant when looking at a problem as big as climate change. And that is exactly the perception we’re trying to change by empowering people to see that little actions can be impactful when part of a collective.
LBB> From a creative point of view, what were your biggest inspirations? How and why did you land on this vision for the film?
Dhaval> The idea was born from the simple notion of showing the power of a little action as part of the bigger collective. While that sounds simple, the trick was now finding a way to do it in an engaging way without making it boring or even preachy. For us, doing the spot in a single take, watching the action seamlessly grow from one to the many was a key component of the idea. We looked at films like Birdman and some of the more iconic long takes in film for inspiration.
LBB> It's an ambitious production - there's a lot going on and it seems like one take! Did that vision come from Adam or was it something you were keen to do from the creation stage? Why?
Dhaval> We always pictured the story unfolding in a seamless long take, as it’s a key component of the story growing from one to many. But it’s one thing having that idea in your head and on paper. It’s a whole different ball game when you now try to make it real. This is where Adam and his vision were integral.
LBB> Speaking of Adam, why was he the right director to bring this to life?
Joel> Adam’s an absolute master of his craft and had a very clear vision of how he wanted to bring the idea to life. Not only is his work some of the best in the world, he also believed in the message, and it shows in how he handled the film.
LBB> What was the shoot like? How did you pull this off? Give us the details!
Dhaval> The spot was shot in Stockholm, Sweden. Seemed right to film a spot with a message that’s so important to IKEA in its backyard. What was really interesting about this shoot was that it really wasn’t like a typical shoot where you capture a bunch of vignettes and you don’t really know what it’s going to look like or how it will work till you see it all come together in the edit suite. Here, because of the nature of the idea, what you saw on the monitor on the day is pretty much what you see now. Sure, there was post and clean up, etc., but we really wanted to get as much of the spot in camera as possible.
Anytime you shoot a spot of this scale and then add the added complexity of doing it in a single take, it gets pretty challenging on set. Thankfully, we had two masters of their craft in Adam and Oscar winning DP Linus Sandgren at the helm. And with Steve [Mottershead] and his Artjail crew, who worked super closely with us from the very beginning and had a massive role in bringing the vision to life, we truly had the A-team on this project.
LBB> What were the trickiest components and how did you overcome them?
Johanna> Given that safety was our top priority while filming, we limited the amount of people who went to Sweden. While we had a member of our IKEA marketing team on-site, I myself was not on set. With the wonders of technology, it felt as if I was on set with the team thanks to remote viewing.
Sarah> Shooting a commercial during a global pandemic poses some unique challenges. We took all the mandatory safety precautions on set, including having most of the team join remotely, including clients and key members of the agency. Ultimately, safety matters first to us and we were able to navigate this complex shoot by being meticulous about it.