IKEA Flout Banksy Principles With Copycat Adverts

IKEA – the world’s largest furniture retailer – appropriate the ‘cool’ of street art in new advertising campaign

The new campaign has been made to coincide with Milan Design Week, and it has seen furniture giants IKEA pasting stencilled black and white posters across Milan’s subway stations. Accompanied with the slogan ‘People bring Design to Life’, IKEA has quite clearly lifted the aesthetic from iconic street artist’s Banksy and Shepard Fairey.

Take a look at that little girl reaching up towards the words; does she not remind you of Banksy’s ‘Girl and Balloon’, that recently sold at auction for an incredible £73,250 – five times the pre-sale estimate of £15,000! Oh wait! Here’s a conspiracy theory coming: Banksy’s artwork is painted on the cardboard back of an IKEA piece of furniture; could the new ad campaign be, at best, their way of saying ‘thankyou’, and, at worst, the sordid results of some secret mutual promotion contra-agreement?! Unlikely, of course; more likely is the obvious fact that a big corporation like IKEA will be itching to steal some of the sexy ‘cool’ of street art in order to peddle their product. Think Lucozade and Lara Croft… (she was cool once).

This is especially ironic as Banksy lashed out at public advertising, condemning ‘bully’ advertisers for making themselves powerful by making their consumers feel inadequate and small:

“People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you.

You, however, are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity.

Fuck that. Any advert in a public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It’s yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.

You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don’t owe them any courtesy. They owe you. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don’t even start asking for theirs.”

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