IKEA and “The Wonderful Everyday”
IKEA is the largest furniture retailer in the world with over two billion customers each year walking through its doors and shopping online. The company began running its “Wonderful Everyday” campaign since the start of 2014 with tremendous success, engaging the audience with television slots, billboards, experiential marketing and magazine inserts.
The preferred reading of these advertisements is simple: buy the products and improve the quality of your home and your life. It is a bold message so it is really important to deconstruct the representation explore how the producers are able to achieve that meaning.
Analyse the following print advertisement in terms of Charles Peirce’s triadic model of signs.
Points to Consider
Charles Peirce conceived a three-stage approach to understanding how signs communicate ideas: the representamen, or physical form of the signifier, the interpretant and the mental concept produced by the signifier, and then the object, which is the intending meaning of the sign. This triadic model of communication recognises the importance of the individual’s interpretation and understanding of the sign before reaching a conclusion about its intention.
This advertisement uses certain signs to promote the “wonderful” furniture and lifestyle offered by IKEA. Peirce’s theory can help explain how the producers deliver that message.
You should comment on the important signifiers, such as the sofa, chair, table, bookcase and rug. Obviously, they are making the consumer aware of the products sold at the superstore. We can ignore some of the decorations and personal affects in the room. Of course, Peirce argued that we focus on the important parts representamen which signal the meaning. In other words, we only need to acknowledge some aspects of the image to understand its purpose.
Do these signifiers combine to create the impression of a cosy and loving living room? Is this lifestyle aspirational? This is the interpretant?
If the lifestyle presented in the advertisement is aspirational and something we all desire, what is the object of the media text?
One of the dominant signifiers is the grandmother and granddaughter flicking through a photograph album. What does this representamen signify? Why did the creators of this image use the photograph album? What is its interpretant? What impression, or object, does this narrative create towards the company?
What values are expressed by the inclusion of the green space outside the window? You could analyse this part of the advertisement in terms of the triadic model.
Finally, how is our interpretation of the text anchored by the tagline “The Wonderful Everyday”?
Although the question focuses on Peirce’s triadic model of communication, you could also try to analyse the key aspects of this advertisement according to his three sign categories. If you want more practice applying this theory, you should look at this anti-smoking campaign next.