When I first moved to Washington, DC in 1988, IKEA ads touting their high product-testing standards were on TV a lot. My roommate and I loved one with a scientist jumping up and down on a bed chanting, “You’re gonna get hurt! You’re gonna get hurt! You’re gonna get hurt!”

That’s how I remembered it, anyway. We especially loved that ad after we’d been drinking all night at Ireland’s Four Provinces (aka The 4Ps) so, um, do with that what you will.

Over the years, I’ve quizzed marketing experts about this ad campaign. I’ve made phone calls. I’ve searched for this ad on youtube. All to no avail. Samer almost had me convinced that I’d imagined it. Almost.

Recently, I began to wonder if I was perhaps remembering the ads themselves properly, but had the company wrong. I commenced googling, and the first hit led me to a detailed dissection of the whole campaign!

It was real! And it was an IKEA campaign! And it was, indeed, almost exactly as I remembered it!

Thank you so much, Adland! There’s no video, but the picture pretty much says it all, and they break down the ad.

TITLE CARD: IKEA LOGO VO ANNCR: Ikea, Swedish for common sense.

In the closing scene, the male tester is jumping up and down on a bed. …Like a kid.
FEMALE TESTER: You’re gonna get hurt.
FEMALE TESTER: You’re gonna get hurt.
FEMALE TESTER: You’re gonna get hurt.

The post is a discussion of a number of ad campaigns and I’m not familiar with, but the IKEA part vindicates my memory. Lots of Gen X creatives read this site, though, so some of you will probably find it interesting if you remember this ad, or some later ads for other companies that were apparently suspiciously similar.

I loved this note at the bottom of the post, a 2005 update to the 1998 post:

A visitor lets us know that IKEA tv spot in the Badland section was definitely done at Goldberg Marchdesano in D.C. Joe Moscati was the Art Director…he was at the One Show to accept award on behalf of Goldberg, and has the pencil with his name on it to prove it. Wow, this makes the ‘original’ ad an olden goldie, 1988 is a long time ago for a commercial.

I’m glad the website broke down all of the ads in the campaign – they were all funny.

I uploaded their image and put it at the top of this post because this post has been in my draft file for a while and I’ve had trouble loading the adland page a few times and I’m afraid they might disappear. I’m going to drop them a line to make sure it’s okay I’m using it. And to thank them for documenting this ad campaign!

photo.JPG[embedded image: what the fuck?” on flickr by meanlouise]

I was scheduled to receive a chair, ottoman, and associate slipcovers today from IKEA.

Over a dependably tasty lunch at Vermillion last week, Danielle assured me that I would, at minimum, get the wrong chair.

Oh ye of little faith.

The big day arrived. I got the correct chair. I got the correct ottoman. I got the correct ottoman slip-cover. I got all of the associated hardware and I got it all put together lickety-split.

I didn’t even lickety-split any of my fingers on any of the deviously small allen wrenches.

So what’s the problem, you ask? (You ask, presumably, because you’re drunk and didn’t understand that the image of Husband at the top of the post was a tip-off that there is a problem).

But I digress.

Look at the chair.

Look harder.

The chair, it’s naked.

Why? Because this is the slipcover they sent me:

It’s gigantic. I feel like I could rig a sailing vessel with all that canvas.

See the photo at the top of the post for details.

I’ve contacted IKEA. It’s a simple matter of them picking this one up and bringing a new one, right?


We’ll see. Frankly, part of the attraction of IKEA upholstered furniture is the fact that you can get the most amazing custom covers for them from Bemz.

Look how adorable our rumpus room couch is:

[embedded image:couch]

Until I buy the new cover, I still need one for the chair, because they aren’t designed to be clothing-optional.

Pricy? Yeah, but the fabric quality of the textiles from Bemz is very high. To be fair, the quality of these IKEA slipcovers seem to be pretty high. Too bad they’re the wrong ones.

In the meantime, I owe Danielle a cocktail because she pretty much called this.

How can this company, with the worst delivery record and the worst customer service on the planet possibly stay in business? How? How? How? (Because people like me are stupid and keep shopping there?)

I’m going to edit this to add a key fact Husband missed. You can’t order the chair without the slipcover. They count as one item. One item. No one orders the chair and asks to upgrade to the HMS Pinafore.

I was looking for clips from the 30 Rock episode where they went to IKEA but I found this:

[embedded clip: Breaking up in IKEA]

Later, I did find this:

[embedded clip: 30 Rock IKEA]

…but by then I’d lost interest. In IKEA jokes, at any rate. I think we all lost interest in 30 Rock a long time ago.

Poor 30 Rock.

I’ve developed what clinicians refer to as “Beth Baldwin Based IKEA Co-dependency.” If they don’t call it that yet, I’m certain that they will in the future. Like pretty much everything else, it’s surely a syndrome on the way to being pathologized and included in the DSM-V.

Beth’s busy with her glamorous life, her work, and an amazing artist residency at the Artisphere, so I’d feel really bad about guilting her into going with me to IKEA right now just to buy a chair. And an ottoman. And to eat meatballs. And to watch couples fight their larger relationship battles in crazy passive-aggressive power struggles in the dining room table showroom area. And to impulse buy small random kitchen objects, because these are the things you do at IKEA.

Except in my dreams. In my dreams you don’t just go to IKEA. You also live there.

In a recent dream, Beth and I owned an IKEA. We lived there in an amazing Penthouse on the roof. Other people lived there, but when I woke up I couldn’t remember who they were. I do remember that Husband had an amazing kitchen.

There were also a lot of adorable cats living in the store, kind of like this:

I looked it up. IKEAs are franchises. We could own our own IKEA.

I’m not sure why we’d want to.

Their crazy corporate structure is so mysterious even they don’t seem to understand it – I suspect many of the layers of the company are designed expressly to avoid paying taxes, not because they want to enable the franchising of their stores. That’s okay, I don’t really want to own an IKEA.

While I don’t want to own a large retail franchise, I do wish, as I mentioned earlier, to own a new chair. I don’t want any more big heavy club chairs. I don’t want to relocate the nice one in the living room up into my office, either. Where would my spiritual advisor, Roger, sit while we all watch cartoons? Nevertheless, I want something larger than the barrel chairs that currently inhabit my office.

“Beth’s busy, but I can buy a chair without her!” I told myself.

“How hard could this be?” I asked myself.

What I should have asked myself is, “How many kinds of stupid can one person be?”

The answer is many. Many kinds of stupid.

I always forget what a mess IKEA’s inventory system is. I don’t know how I can forget, after the incident 6 years ago wherein I wanted to buy 4 Billy Bookcases with 4 pairs of full-length glass doors, which devolved into a ridiculous series of trips to various stores, innumerable phone calls, and absurd arguments about which items were on the ground or in the air. Victory was almost ours, those bookcases were in our reach, when at the last moment our hopes were dashed when we were told that it turned out that the previous night a forklift operator at College Park lifted all of the glass doors on a forklift. And then dropped them. Not intentionally, one presumes, but at that point my levels of IKEA-based derangement were such that I would have believed anything.

To her credit, the sales associate actually got teary-eyed when she told me what had happened. Or she was a very good actor. Or IKEA’s inventory system had also just broken her and we got a front-row seat at her meltdown.

Still, hope springs eternal and I thought I could buy a chair and an ottoman without Beth-based supervision.

How far will I go to avoid going to IKEA without Beth? I went around to my neighbor’s homes and tried out all of their chairs from all of the most obvious retail options in the area until I was sure the IKEA chair was the one I wanted. It was over 100 degrees out, but trudging around my hilly neighborhood and imposing on various neighbors was less aggravating than going to IKEA. For me, anyway.

Satisfied with my choice, I attempted to order the items online.

“In stock!” The website claimed.

The website lies.

When I tried to place the order, I got a message that the items were out of stock. I was then directed to check the stock and reorder. Which I did, over several days, thinking this must be a glitch.

Finally, in exasperation, I called the College Park store. I was told they had 13 chairs, 10 white covers, and a lot of ottomans. I was told Woodbridge had 9 chairs. These were the numbers that were appearing online. I decided to drive to one of the stores, buy the chairs and then arrange delivery, risking all that impulse buying, not to mention the guilt of not having Beth with me.

Then, I had a moment of clarity and called the 800 number for home catalog orders. An associate took my order…and told me the chairs are out of stock…in the warehouse, and at both local stores.

These are big bulky chairs. People don’t put them in their carts and tool around the store with them while they decide whether to buy them or not. Inventory control ought to be fairly straight-forward. You have them, or you don’t.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who finds this annoying. I didn’t care enough to pay for the contents of the entire article, but the teaser alone confirmed a few things for me:

Like many warehouse operations, IKEA crams an awful lot of merchandise into its stores, with much of it dozens of feet in the air, accessible only via forklift.
Under the old system, the site would tell customers that an item was in-store when it was at that store, not differentiating between a product at a lower level and one at a higher level. The problem: Because IKEA safety procedures prohibit forklifts from being used when customers are in the store, customers would come in to purchase their reserved sofa or table, only to be told that it can’t be accessed and that they must return some other day.

There are actually a lot of things about IKEA that make me crazy. Their labor record and the allegations of spying on employees not being the least of them. Also, I’m afraid if we hang out in the dining room table showroom for too long, we’ll start to have relationship problems, and Beth and I don’t want to risk that!

Allegedly, my chair will arrive on July 27th. I’m not going to hold my breath.

Next time Batty bemoans her unfinished dissertation, point out to her that playing the IKEA game probably isn’t the most productive thing to be spending her time on.