Branded Content – Ikea: Trapped in the 90s – Reality Show


Focus on the content. Advertisers have lost sight of a basic reality in their pursuit of logical sales messaging: theatrics generate revenue

Ikea produced a reality programme called Trapped in the 90s to commemorate its 25th anniversary in Spain. The show included six individuals who were forced to live in a house that was built before Ikea’s inventions would have been accessible, and they were forced to live together 24/7.

‘The mattress is scratchy and heavy, the cooking utensils are strewn all over the place, and the bathroom is too tiny to complete a beauty regimen in.’ These are some examples of the amusing and serious issues discussed on a dedicated website that featured the eight five-minute episodes of the programme on YouTube.

The participants are given unexpected Ikea products throughout the episodes, which offer them hope and make it easier for them to live in the home.

McCann, Madrid, developed the series in collaboration with reality show writers and producers. All of the participants were born in Spain after 1996 when Ikea spent weeks casting them. All of these houseguests have significant sway as influencers. Ikea made this choice with full awareness that it would boost the campaign’s visibility, and they couldn’t be more right.

The team recorded almost 100 hours of footage that was shown on television and shared on social media.


Ikea has been around for decades, so it’s hard to come up with fresh methods to showcase its items, yet the brand is synonymous with inexpensive design and its products are everywhere. The home furnishings behemoth deftly used its 25th anniversary in Spain as an excuse to look back on the era before its goods existed with Trapped in the 90s, a nostalgic throwback.

As far as anybody can tell, nostalgia is eternal, and it occurs every 30 years. The main element behind this 30-year phenomenon, among other things, seems to be the fact that a critical mass of individuals who were culture consumers when they were young took around 30 years to become cultural makers as adults. Customers of all ages are already starting to think back on the ’90s, so the timing couldn’t be better for Ikea’s anniversary. By capitalising on the reality show as a high-concept before and after, the company could showcase its objective of “creating a better everyday life for many people” in an exciting way rather than just stating it.

Focus on the content. Advertisers have lost sight of a basic reality in their pursuit of logical sales messaging: theatrics generate revenue. All you have to do is put on a performance that captivates the audience and makes them feel wonderful. Their opinion of you will improve, leading to more sales of your products.

Trapped in the 90s succeeds in its idea and thus entertains. There is no hint of dishonesty or ulterior motive in the tone. The reality TV programme the company commits to delivers on theatrics and improves its popularity, but there are simpler, easier, and less remarkable methods to make this ‘Life before Ikea’ message.


  • Increased sales of new products were 169%.
  • 18X more time spent on
  • New products sold over 1.5 million euros in the first week.
  • Increased interactions on stories by 1432%
  • Over 1,800,000 hours of content watched

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