PRODUCTION: IKEA 'SLEEP ON IT' CAMPAIGN
22 October 2020
The new IKEA Beds campaign challenges sleep neglect by celebrating the truth that the more you sleep, the more you get out of life. In a series of provocative posters, IKEA highlights the benefits sleep has by comparing it to fad products that promise the same result but rarely deliver, including energy drinks, anti-aging creams and vitamin supplements. The striking visuals, were shot in camera by photographer Amy Currell, using large-scale models designed by Andy Knight Ltd. Here agent & producer Ian Potter at Miss Jones gives the story of the production.
Final Campaign - Images © Amy Currell
Invariably these days advertising briefs no longer just appear in your inbox. Instead there is usually the precursory email, followed by the signing of the inevitable NDA, and then finally the pdf appears. This process only adds to the already heightened anticipation of when a top creative agency gets in touch… what is it? Who is it for? Is it a good one? Is it a nice one? Don’t get me wrong, all briefs are ‘good’ and ‘nice’ as far as I am concerned, but sometimes they’re good-good or nice-nice, and to our delight, IKEA Sleep was one of those.
From the off we could see this was a proper, well considered advertising brief. Simple, clever and not diluted by endless iterations for our now fully multi-platform world. The images would work across everything, just as they are. No mention of motion, not even the dreaded cinemagraph got a look-in! Just plain old stills, doing what stills do best… make people stop, look, engage and remember. Just like the good old days (if anyone can remember life before influencers!)
But this brief was different again, it didn’t just have a foundation in pre-social media, but a hint of pre-digital too. An analogue coolness to it. Right from the HQ of Cool Britannia itself, Shoreditch, and those very cool Redchurch Street mothers, of Mother.
Our photographer Amy Currell had been asked to pitch for it, through the ever time consuming and intense three-way pitching process of treatments and budgets. But from the very off, Amy knew instinctively how this would work best… in camera. As Amy explains ‘I was excited to see the brief come in as it was very clever creatively and gave us a unique opportunity to suggest a real model making build. I immediately wanted to suggest we build the models to scale instead of using post production, something that luckily we had the time to do on this occasion’.
So swerving the retouch route we drew up a treatment to shoot as Amy felt most comfortable. But before we could commit, we had to be sure it was do-able. We contacted a number of favoured model makers, and found that creating a large-scale see-through pill bottle could present a number of potential issues. However, one of those we approached assured us that with a bit of ingenuity and magic it could be done. So we presented our treatment and budget, crossed everything we had to hand, and waited.
A year earlier Amy had shot for Gourmand magazine a series of food dishes made up from everyday household items such as cushions, balloons, hose pipes, and included an ice cream cone made from a laundry basket and a duvet. The image was used in a moodboard and of course we featured it in our treatment as it tied in very closely to the anti-ageing cream brief.
Whenever I talk to up-and-coming photographers about their work and how to progress, my number one and most boring mantra is – keep shooting. You’ve got to keep shooting because you never know what it might lead to or how it might support a pitch later down the line, and this was the perfect example that process. With this in our armoury we stood a good chance.
Thankfully we didn’t need to wait long for the good news, and we were off. Not too drastic a turnaround time, the team at Mother were totally on it and had given us plenty of time to get it right. Very unusual in this increasingly ‘we want it tomorrow’ industry. It gave us time to think it through thoroughly and brief in the all important model builds correctly, after all this was a big lump of the budget and needed to be bang on, or we’d blow the whole thing.
A few days later and I was to be found standing in the middle of Mother’s huge reception, with a hurriedly purchased IKEA pillow at my feet and a tape measure in hand, with a panel of senior creatives, account management, production and Amy all looking on… probably all thinking ‘what is this guy on?’ But pacing and marking it out for real was the best way. From this session we determined the dimensions we needed for the builds… which seemed to be getting bigger and bigger as we measured them out.
Briefing in Andy Knight, our selected model makers, was the easy bit, nothing fazed them. We had concluded that the pill bottle needed to be nearly 3m in length so that it scaled perfectly to the pillow. CAD drawings were soon delivered and everything was looking pretty-much perfect… until… Covid.
With just days to go before we were scheduled to shoot, it was called off. We were told it was most likely postponed, but deep down, as soon as lockdown kicked in, both myself and Amy never expected it to re-emerge. Gone forever, this brilliant campaign.
Andy Knight kindly agreed to store the models which were still in bits, while the world around us started intensely baking and noticing butterflies, or unfortunately, getting very ill or worse. We closed the office, and it being next to UCLH we managed to lend it to a frontline Covid nurse who was shielding from her vulnerable child. She lived there for 6 weeks, working untold hours and not venturing to her home until it was over. Suddenly our woes of losing this lovely ad campaign were all put thoroughly into perspective.
As lockdown was drawing to a close, myself along with a number of other agents and the AOP got together to discuss how we could possibly go back to work. How we could feasibly sit together in studios, hire locations, rent equipment – all the things we needed to do on a shoot, yet keep people safe. It took some time to knock it into shape, but with the help of the APA we managed to come up with a bunch of protocols which looked workable. And so they proved, and are still proving today. They’re HERE if you want to take a look.
Before we knew it, Mother were back in touch and boom, we were off again. We couldn’t believe it, we were so happy. We selected our brilliant studio, Alva East, brought in our fantastic team including stylist Amy Friend, hired an expensive ‘Covid supervisor’ who was very good at shouting at the team at the slightest opportunity – and rightly so… ‘distance please!!’ being the usual cry. And finally there they were… the models. The pill bottle arrived in it’s own Luton truck, along with 5 blokes and a cradle, the can and tub in another – all looking absolutely perfect. Even the studio cove had been painted the perfect shade of blue (after much discussion…)
It was all lit and shot for real in camera, with the labels having been designed by Mother and made for real. The only retouching required was a bit of tidying up and the assembly of captures. Done. No long winded ‘can we change this?’, ‘can we tweak that?’… and for this all credit is due not only to Mother, but to their brave and brilliant client, IKEA.
It felt like the old days, but looked so cool and modern. And so far it’s getting rave reviews, including Campaign’s Pick of the Week. It just shows how a brave client, allowing their creative team do what they do best, with a photographer who knows what she’s doing, can make something special.