It's back-to-school season, which means another article about Ikea's fall catalog. Since the Swedish furniture retailer's catalog was first introduced in 1951, consumers have eagerly awaited the beautifully designed book/catalog, showcasing the brand's unique and well-designed products.
And that's a lot of consumers. According to Ikea's website, the company prints around 200 million copies of its catalog every year in 27 languages for 38 countries. That's more than twice the number of bibles produced in a given year.
Ikea usually comes up with a new concept for the catalog each year, or at least a new way to promote it. This year is no different. The company recently released a clever new ad that subtly mocks Apple's self-important iPad commercials by suggesting that print exceeds the power of digital media.
According to a Sept. 3 Adweek article, the campaign, by BBH Asia Pacific, invites consumers to "experience the power of a book" and rediscover "the original touch interface." Amazing features include "eternal battery life" and pages that "load instantly, with zero lag." As the on-screen narrator says, "It's not a digital book, or an e-book. It's a bookbook™."
It also quotes a press release in which BBH Creative Director Tinus Strydom raves, "To be given the opportunity to launch such an innovative content delivery system is a once in a career opportunity."
Furthermore, the ad quotes regional Ikea Marketing Manager Yeong Tze Kuen: "Like we say in the campaign, at Ikea we feel that technology that is this life-enhancing should be in the hands of everyone. We invite you to download one from your mailbox. The one you open with a key. Or you can upload yourself to the Ikea store and find one there."
The campaign will run in Singapore and Malaysia via newspaper, outdoor, radio and cinema ads, as well as an animated microsite.
That's not the only recent news from Ikea, however.
In a June 24 post from the CG Society, an organization for digital artists, Ikea admits to using 3-D technology to create digital models of 75 percent of the product images in its catalog. According to the post, using 3-D rendering is less expensive and logistically easier than trying to ship items from all over the world to be photographed. It also allows for more flexibility. For example, if an item is changed, it can simply be digitally tweaked rather than re-shot.
Of course, this technology also allows Ikea to get the absolute “perfect” shot — which may be very different from the real, actual merchandise consumers receive. For example, when a consumer builds an Ikea chair, it may have a nick or scratch. These imperfections are generally washed away in a digitally rendered image. The challenge for consumers is to be able to discern what's real and what's digitally created.
What's your take on this news? Is the trend of traditional photography taking a backseat to 3-D technology disconcerting, or is it merely a highly evolved way of creating detailed product images. Let us know your thoughts by posting a comment below.