We can tell you that IKEA is not only about serious (and btw. amazing) campaigns – just like the one in which Ikea Israel introduced intriguing items that were designed as a series of add-ons that convert the brand’s furniture into disability-friendly products. The Swedish company does have a quirky and light-hearted side too, just watch these sheets have the party of their life. Now, IKEA is here to celebrate local Malaysian heritage with a launch campaign for its new Penang store opening.

While exploring the local Hokkien language, the brand used word-play as a means of not only generating excitement for its new furniture shop but also as a way of paying respect to the unique nuances of the large city.

Click to enlarge

The campaign was developed by BBH Singapore to drive awareness for the opening of the first IKEA store in Penang on March 14. By taking advantage of the phonetic similarity of some popular Penang Hokkien words with the Swedish company’s name, the two have come up with playful rhymes to capture the attention of readers.

Nigel Richardson, Head of Marketing at IKEA Southeast Asia, told branding.news: “We wanted to introduce IKEA to Penang with an engaging and relatable campaign that takes into account the unique cultural nuances of the city. The new campaign has already created a lot of buzz and we hope to sustain the excitement through the second phase of the campaign.”

Click to enlarge

The executions show two parallel images of popular local expressions – just like a chicken and a cabinet with the words “We are not Kay Kia. We are IKEA.” While “Kay Kia” is the Hokkien word for chick, IKEA sounds way too similar. Another poster features a tall guy and the BILLY bookcase with the lines “We are not Lo Kha Kia (a tall guy). We are IKEA.” You get the gist, don’t you?

The clever campaign was launched on OOH, digital, print, and social platforms, and marks the first phase of the launch. The second phase focuses on product-centred stories that “demonstrate the IKEA values of sustainability, creativity, and simplicity.” The latter phase of the campaign is supported by rich, immersive spots that will run on digital platforms.

Gaston Soto, Creative Director, BBH Singapore, added: “The campaign was inspired by Hokkien memes listing words that end with “Kia”. Through this wordplay, IKEA is paying tribute to the rich culture of Penang.” And we can only appreciate such a playful and witty approach. Well done, I-KE-A!

Click to enlarge


Client: IKEA

Agency: BBH Singapore

Chief Creative Officer: Joakim Borgstrom
Creative Directors: Gaston Soto, Mara Vidal

Writers: Luke Somasundram
Art Directors: Grace Wong

Planning Director: Lizzie Nolan
Account Director: Alicia Tiong
Account Manager: Nafisah Nordin
Producer: Wendi Chong