‘Tis the reason to be jolly with Iceland

Iceland Christmas

It’s Christmas! And what a joy to see our Christmas campaign for Iceland go live this week. Eight executions of print ads nationwide, combining beautiful photography and a warm tone of voice to tempt customers with the delicious Luxury range, plus a stunning 16 page media insert in the weekend papers. Look out for the second insert in December. And if we can give you one tip… the Luxury Pavlova is to die for…

Iceland ChristmasIceland ChristmasIceland Christmas



Sean Dwyer

How to have a birthday (clue: the answer’s not in your logo)


Dust down your shell suit and dance atop your Lack table – it’s time to party like it’s 1999.

When you have a big birthday, what’s the best way to celebrate? If you’re like most retailers, you slap the year of your birth underneath your logo and do an advertising campaign. If you’re Ikea, you use the opportunity for one big party and invite the public along.

Ikea’s recent House Party – a takeover of a four storey town house in London, played homage to the brand’s 30 year’s presence in the UK, and was free for the public to enter for one week. A brilliant hand, played at just the right time as part of their overall brand strategy.

Each floor was cleverly decked out as a living room throwback to past decades reflecting our changing tastes in interiors. Guests could wander around the whole house, much like an exhibition, taking a trip down memory lane with Billy Book cases, Twister and Connect 4 in the 80s, Britpop and minimalist sofas in the 90s and shiny acrylic units and clashing walls in the 00s. Hammy actors made the experience even more fun (and even more bonkers). By contrast, the top floor looked to the future, inviting people to consider how they might create homes that help us make better use of the world’s dwindling resources. Come night, the house turned into an actual house party, complete with Jamiroquai playlist and Hooch at the bar.


Experiential marketing is nothing new, but has been gaining traction over the last few years as traditional advertising fails to hit the mark. But what was interesting here, is that while the house was stacked full of Ikea product, there was absolutely no emphasis on buying anything. In fact, you couldn’t even pick up a catalogue (although you could check out 30 years of catalogue covers made into wallpaper – a nice touch). Ikea knows you can’t make money directly from experiential. It’s not the place for transactions. Instead, the whole event was a cleverly executed gold standard in brand awareness, geared towards putting Ikea at the forefront of consumer’s minds, both for their ‘design classics’ which continue to endure, and to cement their reputation as one of the most forward thinking, innovative and ethically minded brands. After all, if a brand stirs positive emotions with consumers, they’re more likely to have a positive perception overall.

Ikea has recognised that as people aren’t responding to traditional advertising, they need another way to reach the ever-apathetic, attention-of-a-gnat consumer. Something with talkability. And the great thing about experiential is it’s hugely shareable. Even if people didn’t visit the house, they probably consumed it via social media – meaning Ikea probably reached thousands, possibly millions, more people than they might have otherwise.

So if you’re about to have a birthday soon, think twice about that logo tweak and take a leaf from Ikea. Prawn vol-au-vents optional.



Sean Dwyer

Can graphic design save your life?


This month, a couple of the Whippets headed to The Wellcome Collection in central London to have a look at their exhibition ‘Can Graphic Design Save Your Life?’ Turns out it can. But it’s also quite capable of killing you too. From tiny stamps to national advertising campaigns and pill packaging that many of us see everyday, it was a chance to reflect on the impact and importance graphic design has in our lives. The show begins with the controversial topic of smoking. Over the years, creatives had encouraged people to buy tobacco as much as they’d tried to sway them to kick the habit. Charles Saatchi’s ingenious Silk Cut campaign in response to the constraints on tobacco advertising (which prohibited naming brands in the early 1990s) beautifully depicted ‘Silk Cut’ with purple silk being slashed and cut in various surreal ways. They offered rewards to those who could decipher the coded message, and Silk Cut sales soared.

On the other end of the spectrum, we saw how market research agency GfK set out to find the ugliest colour possible, subconsciously repulsing consumers by wrapping packets of tobacco with the chosen colour. They used the sluggish brown Pantone 448A called ‘opaque couché’ deemed the ugliest colour in the world, and that’s what you see on packets of cigarettes and tobacco today. An Australian government report estimated that the number of smokers fell by more than 100,000 after the sickly-brown colour was implemented onto packets. Quite an amazing statistic for a colour swap and really reaffirms the impact of graphic design.


The section on hospitals housed a fascinating project by design agency PearsonLloyd, who aimed to reduce violence caused by frustration in A&E due to unexplained delays. Designers created clear information panels and fixed them to walls in appropriate departments so that visitors had a much better understanding of what the process was within A&E, and where they were within it. Violence incidents fell by 50% after a year of implementation. An incredible statistic, and an important one when saving lives.

Other themes that came through in the exhibition included the importance of graphic design when transcending language barriers, which was especially prevalent in the packaging of drugs, where semiotics especially come into play. And how design has really shaped and documented controversial health topics over time – like sex, drug use and smoking, as well as provoking and empowering people to take action, particularly seen in health charity sector.

All in all, a fascinating exhibition in a beautiful space that reminded us how powerful and important design is within every aspect of our lives – and importantly keeping us alive.



Sean Dwyer

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