9 Nov 2016
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Ikea recreates Syrian refugee home in Red Cross collaboration

Ikea has created a replica of a real Syrian home in a bid to raise awareness of the ongoing crisis and help raise funds for the Red Cross.

The home, which is 25 square meters of cinder block walls and meagerly furnished, was housed within Ikea’s flagship store in Slependen, Norway.

The space used Ikea posters and price tags to tell the story of a typical Syrian family’s plight and the daily challenges to get access to food, clean water and medicine.

The price tags also served as donation slips in a bid to raise money for the Red Cross.

A brilliant and confronting installation, which brings people face-to-face with the reality of the ongoing Syria crisis

The aim of the project was to give customers a realistic glimpse into life in war-torn Damascus through the story of Rana, a mother of four young children who lives in a tiny two-bedroom apartment.

The installation was live throughout October and raised more than 22 million Euros.

The project was a collaboration between Ikea and Red Cross and was created by advertising agency POL.

POL Art Director Snorre Martinsen told AdWeek, "Having visited Rana and learned how she and her family survive outside Damascus, we wanted to rebuild her home as truthfully as we could.” 

"We already had a lot of footage from within Syria, but no matter how emotional it was, nothing got close to the experience of visiting people in a war zone. We realized we could give Norwegians that experience. Placing a Syrian home next to all the Scandinavian homes was obviously a brave move from the warehouse, but it made it clearer than any TV commercial how crucial it is to donate and help." 

This is a brilliant and confronting installation, which brings people face-to-face with the reality of the ongoing Syria crisis.

One of the biggest challenges charity organisation’s like the Red Cross, face is how to engage people with the experiences of those it seeks to help. By confronting people as they go about their own comfortable daily lives and do their furniture shopping, Ikea and Red Cross ensure that the message and the experience cuts through.

The installation is also insync with Ikea’s Brighter Lives for Refugees initiative, which aims to bring light and renewable energy to refugee camps to make them safer and better for children and families.

Among the work Ikea is doing through its non-profit organisation Ikea Foundation, is the Better Shelter flat-pack emergency shelters – a solar-powered modular cabin that can replace tents in refugee camps.

The Better Shelter cabins, which can be assembled without tools in just four hours, are 17.5 square meters and provide shelter for five people.

This installation fits within Ikea’s strategy to help the global refugee crisis as well as its broader brand strategy to improve the lives of families. 

There are currently 65 million Better Shelter’s in camps in Ethiopia, Iraq and Nepal, which are being used for housing, as well as to create doctors surgeries and schools. 

As Ikea Foundation CEO Per Heggenes said, “Sadly, the escalating refugee crisis caused by protracted conflict situations around the world does not seem likely to calm down any time soon.”

This installation fits within Ikea’s strategy to help the global refugee crisis as well as its broader brand strategy to improve the lives of families. Once again Ikea is demonstrating leadership as a global corporation seeking to do good.

By collaborating with the Red Cross, Ikea is not only helping to raise funds and awareness for the crisis, it is also showing its CSR goals are genuine.

This is a brave and powerful project, the strategy is strong and it is beautifully executed. Ikea and Red Cross have brought the grim reality of the Syrian refugee crisis to life in a powerful and confronting way. 


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