Discover the Original – boosting Swedish tourism through IKEA’s furniture

Thế Anh
05:00:59 - September 09, 2022


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    In the fall of 2021, a small lake in Sweden going by the name Bolmen suddenly became the talk of the world. Yet before that, its name was very well known…as the name of a toilet brush made by IKEA – a Swedish-founded company and one of the largest interior retailer in the world, so what does an interior company has anything to do with tourism in Sweden?


    Before going into the campaign, we should first learn a little about IKEA. The company is well beloved worldwide for its simple, yet good quality furniture, which comes at a very affordable price. The company is also well known for introducing Swedish cuisine, particularly its meatballs, to the world, through its many furniture stores, which strangely integrate a canteen for customers to dine after a whole day of browsing. One of IKEA’s weird quirks is how it integrates Swedish’s many iconic names for places into all of its products. While it does have the benefits of spreading the Swedish special naming scheme to its international audience, most people’s impression stops stop at that, just an unusual name that is a bit hard to pronounce and harder to remember. 


    With just a minimal budget, and an order to generate global awareness for Sweden, Hill + Knowlton Strategies, the brain behind this campaign, thought that this would be a tall order. However, they already have the resource they needed – IKEA’s famous furniture name. 

    And there lies the problem that H+K want to solve if they want to make Sweden’s tourist destination become more well known, IKEA Products’ names are so famous, it overshadows the actual location that the name is inspired from whenever someone tries to google the name, turning up images of products instead of places like toilet brushes (Bolmen), sofas (Ektorp) and waste bins (Toftan). 

    “What we realized was that non-Swedes only connected the names to IKEA products. No one knew what these weird-looking, hard-to-pronounce names meant. But people sure did speculate. YouTubers joked about the names, late-night TV hosts did comedic segments about them, and memes were created and shared. But where the world saw humor, we saw an opportunity.” – The campaign organizer said in an article. 

    Discover the Origin


    In November 2021, politicians, residents, and media gathered by lake Bolmen for the presentation of the lake’s new slogan: Welcome to Bolmen, more than an IKEA toilet brush. On social media, even more, beautiful pictures and catchy slogans were offered. Everything pointed towards the Visit Sweden where a guide to 21 lovely places was detailed. Furthermore, a detailed PR plan helped H+K distribute the story to travel, design, pop culture outlets, and other news media all over the world.

    The video starts with a woman explaining the situation surrounding the word “Bolmen”, about how a name for a beautiful lake is used for a mundane toilet brush, sometimes interjecting with comedic quips about how her job as someone working in tourism becomes a bit harder thanks to IKEA. , while she’s walking around and letting the viewers see the entire beauty of the lake that bears the name “Bolmen.” After that, the woman listed out a bunch of other places that have their names used by IKEA for their furniture. Finally, she ended the video by emphasizing a change to the lake image, as the new slogan “Welcome to Bolmen, More than an IKEA toilet brush” appears.

    Through the campaign, people got to know the origin behind IKEA’s weird product names and the Swedish locations got the attention they finally deserve. The results exceeded all expectations and set goals, generating more than 700 articles and 300 blog posts in 49 countries. With a minimal media budget, the campaign got a potential organic reach of 2.1 billion. Moreover, The campaign was recognized with a Gold and Silver Lion for Creative Strategy at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2022.

    Discover the Original – boosting Swedish tourism through IKEA’s furniture


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