Lamp (advertisement)

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A frame from Lamp
AgencyCrispin Porter + Bogusky
Running time60 seconds
Release date(s)September 15, 2002 (Television)
Directed bySpike Jonze
Music byMIT Out Sound
  • Jonas Fornander
Produced byDavid Zander
CountryUnited States
Followed byMoo Cow

Lamp is a television and cinema advertisement released in September 2002 to promote the IKEA chain of furniture stores in the United States. The 60-second commercial was the first part of the "Unböring" campaign conceived by advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky, and follows a lamp abandoned by its owner. It was produced by the production company Morton/Jankel/Zander, and was directed by Spike Jonze. Post-production and editing was handled by Spot Welders and sound design by the California-based MIT Out Sound. The commercial aired concurrently with another IKEA piece in the same vein, titled Moo Cow. Lamp, and its associated campaign, was a popular, critical, and financial success. Sales of IKEA furniture increased by eight percent during the period in which the commercial ran, and Lamp received a number of awards, including a Grand Clio and the Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, considered the most prestigious accolade granted by the advertising community.


Lamp opens with a shot of a red tabletop lamp by a sofa. A woman unplugs it and carries it outside over her shoulder, the camera angle receding from the lamp's former home. A sombre, minimalist piano piece plays in the background as the lamp is left by the side of the road on a dismal, windy day. Hours pass, and shots of the lamp sitting alone in the pouring rain are intercut with others taken from the lamp's perspective, showing through a window a view of its former owner on her sofa beside a new IKEA anglepoise lamp. As the camera pulls away from the abandoned lamp, a Swedish man (Jonas Fornander) walks into view and turns to the camera, stating: "Many of you feel bad for this lamp. That is because you crazy [sic]. It has no feelings, and the new one is much better." The piece ends with the IKEA logo above the campaign's tagline ("Unböring"), and a link to its website, Unbö


Lamp was the first televised commercial produced by Crispin Porter + Bogusky (CP+B) for IKEA. The agency received the contract in early 2002, taking over from the Minneapolis-based advertising agency Carmichael Lynch, who had held the IKEA account since 2000, when the furniture chain ended its 11-year partnership with Deutsch Inc..[1] According to CP+B partner Alex Bogusky, the idea behind Lamp, and the "Unböring" campaign of which it was a part, was to reposition furniture as a fashion item, and marketing efforts were aimed at Americans who "overspend on fashion purchases such as clothes and shoes, [but] still cling to a 'til death do us part' attitude with their furniture."[2]

After gaining approval for the project, CP+B hired production company Morton/Jankel/Zander (MJZ) to handle production of Lamp and its sister piece Moo Cow, which would air concurrently. MJZ assigned different directors to handle each of the television and cinema commercials and, after a brief selection process, chose Spike Jonze, to oversee production of Lamp. In addition to his work on the feature films Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, Jonze's previous body of work included television advertisements such as The Morning After for Nike, Inc. in 2000, and Crazy Legs for Levi's in 2001.[3] CP+B senior producer Rupert Samuel said of Jonze: "As an agency we had always wanted to work with him, and he really brought [Lamp] to life. He turned it into more than what it was on paper."[4]

Shooting Lamp proved relatively straightforward. The majority of the script was dedicated to creating the appropriate mood for the piece through camera angles and lighting.[1] While the "punchline" of the ad was rewritten several times, there was little need for improvisation on set.[5] Casting decisions were made by Jonze himself, who said of the choice for the Swedish man: "I really wanted a non-actor for the Ikea guy. I wanted it to feel like he was just a worker at Ikea who'd walked out of the store and on to the street. The guy we cast (Jonas Fornander)[6] had never acted before.[5] A variety of lamps were considered as potential "protagonists" for Lamp, and according to Jonze, the red tabletop lamp in the final piece was settled upon because it "stood out as the most pathetic of the bunch."[7] At the end of the shoot, one of the crew took the prop home. When Crispin Porter and Bogusky asked for it back, they received a note mimicking the commercial, which read: "See? you've fallen for it. You've grown attached to the lamp, and you are crazy."[1]

Release and reception[edit]

Lamp premiered in September 2002, to coincide with the opening of sixty new IKEA stores across the United States. It aired, along with Moo Cow, during commercial breaks in popular network television shows such as Frasier and Friends, and sports events with wide appeal, such as the 2002 World Series. The two television and cinema pieces were complemented by internet, print, and billboard advertisements pushing the "Unböring" concept. In all, IKEA's advertising spend for 2003 amounted to an estimated $US45,000,000.[1]

The campaign proved a huge popular, critical, and financial success. Sales of IKEA products within the United States increased by eight percent during the period in which Lamp was broadcast.[1] It was analysed extensively by the media, with commentaries appearing in publications such as The New York Times,[8] The Washington Post,[9] and the Chicago Sun-Times.[10] It proved no less popular within the advertising community, with particular praise given for the execution of Lamp. Dan Wieden, co-founder of the advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy, said of the piece: "Lamp hits audiences like a bullet between the eyes."[5] Chairman of DDB Worldwide Bob Scarpelli commented that Lamp was "one of those ideas that changes the whole landscape".[11]

Not all reviewers were as taken with the piece, however, and similarities between aspects of Lamp and advertisements for The Carphone Warehouse running contemporaneously in the United Kingdom were noted.[12] Criticism was also levelled at the message behind the campaign; Rob Walker of Slate magazine commented: "You could argue that IKEA thus associates itself not just with the useless cluttering of landfill, but with a certain slavery to trend-following."[13] Despite this, Lamp was the eighth-most-awarded advertising campaign of 2003,[14] garnering a significant number of awards from the advertising and television communities, including Golds at the London International Awards,[15] the ANDY Awards,[16] the Association of Independent Commercial Producers Awards,[17] and the prestigious Grand CLIO Award for Television and Cinema.[11]

In a move that caused a considerable upset, Lamp was awarded the Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, considered the most prestigious award in the advertising community, in place of the favourite for the prize—Cog, a British advertisement for the Honda Accord.[18][19] Before the jury made their decision, which took longer than any judging session in the history of the festival,[20] Lamp was seen as a long-shot for the award at best.[21] Many speculated that the surprise result was due to accusations of plagiarism levelled at the makers of Cog by producers of the Swiss film The Way Things Go.[22] Ben Walker, the copywriter behind Cog reported in the trade publication Adweek that "A couple of people on the jury told me the reason it didn't win is 'cause they didn't want to be seen to be awarding something which people in some corners had said we copied."[23]


Crispin Porter + Bogusky continued to produce material for the "Unböring" campaign until 2005. However, after Lamp and Moo Cow, the focus of the campaign shifted. The "furniture guilt" concept was abandoned in the follow-up television advertisements, Kitchen and Living Room (both directed by Wes Anderson), in favour of promoting the design virtues of the brand.[1] Lamp continues to be highly thought of within the advertising community, and in 2009 was voted one of the "Top Ten Television Advertisements of the Decade" by Boards magazine.[24] In 2018, IKEA Canada starting airing Lamp 2, a follow-up to the original Lamp television advertisement promoting reusability and recycling of household products. It features a similar soundtrack and visual style, along with a return appearance by Jonas Fornander.[25][26]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Teague, Kevin; "Unböring Campaign", Encyclopedia of Major Marketing Campaigns, Vol. 2, Thompson Gale (2006). pp. 755-758.
  2. ^ McCarthy, Michael; "Ikea's 'Lamp' ad takes top Cannes prize", USA Today, 23 June 2003. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
  3. ^ Nouchi, Rachel; "Production Report: Where are they now?", Campaign, 20 June 2003. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
  4. ^ Fera, Rae Ann; "Rupert Samuel: The unböring agency producer Archived 2009-01-08 at the Wayback Machine", Boards, 1 March 2003. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
  5. ^ a b c Wakelin, Simon; "Creative adaptation Archived 2012-03-28 at the Wayback Machine", Boards, 1 December 2003. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
  6. ^ "Top Spots Archived 2012-03-28 at the Wayback Machine", Boards, 1 November 2002. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
  7. ^ Wilcha, Kristin; "IKEA's 'Lamp' Shines at Cannes Advertising Festival", Shoot, 27 June 2003.
  8. ^ Elliot, Stuart; "IKEA Challenges the Attachment to Old Stuff, in Favor of Brighter, New Stuff.", The New York Times, 16 September 2002.
  9. ^ Hales, Linda; "Jeepers, Keepers!; IKEA Ads Deride Attachment to Old Furniture", The Washington Post, 21 September 2002.
  10. ^ Lazare, Lewis; "IKEA Makes Argument; Angry Couples at Center of New Spots for Retailer", Chicago Sun-Times, November 14 2002.
  11. ^ a b Eastwood, Allison; "MINI missing but "Lamp" shines at Clios Archived 2011-08-14 at the Wayback Machine", Boards, 22 May 2003. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
  12. ^ "Watch Crispin Porter's Ikea Film Grand Prix winner", Brand Republic, 23 June 2003. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
  13. ^ Walker, Rob; "I Like Spike", Slate, 23 September 2002. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
  14. ^ Gunn, Thomas; "The Gunn Report and Showreel of the Year", Flaxman Wilkie (2003).
  15. ^ "Archive: 2003 Winners", London International Awards, 2003. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
  16. ^ "Archive: 2003 Winners Archived 2012-07-23 at the Wayback Machine", ANDY Awards, 2003. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
  17. ^ "Archive: 2003 Winners", AICP website. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
  18. ^ Mutel, Glen; "Surprise at Cannes as 'lamp' wins Grand Prix", Campaign, 27 June 2003. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
  19. ^ Eastwood, Allison; "Candid Cannes Archived 2012-03-28 at the Wayback Machine", Boards, 25 June 2003. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
  20. ^ Cozens, Claire; "Cog slips into third place as Jonze ad triumphs at Cannes", The Guardian, 23 June 2003.
  21. ^ Whitehead, Jennifer; "Looking forward to Cannes ads that are tipped to win", Brand Republic, 9 June 2003. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
  22. ^ Brook, Stephen; "BBC 'tribute' ad drives Honda forward", The Guardian, 20 September 2004. Retrieved 6 September 2009.
  23. ^ Parpis, Eleftheria; "Ben Walker On The Spot", Adweek, 21 June 2004. Retrieved 2 August 2009, via
  24. ^ "Top 10 spots of the decade Archived 2012-01-11 at the Wayback Machine", Boards, 23 December 2009. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
  25. ^ Gianatasio, David (2018-09-10). "16 Years After Breaking Our Hearts, Ikea Finally Tells an Abandoned Lamp's Full Story". Adweek. Retrieved 2018-11-03.
  26. ^ Beer, Jeff (2018-09-10). "Check out Ikea's smart sequel to Spike Jonze's classic 2002 lamp ad". Fast Company. Retrieved 2018-11-03.

External links[edit]

  • Lamp, the commercial at Youtube
Preceded by
Cannes Lions Film Grand Prix Winner
Succeeded by
Preceded by
The Hire
Grand CLIO Award for Television/Cinema
Succeeded by