January 25, 2016, IKEA Taiwan released an innovative new ad campaign that created a worldwide buzz. IKEA Taiwan targeted the Taiwanese market through localized advertising, appealing to the Taiwanese culture, and utilizing themes such as the importance of family, food, and social interaction. In Taiwan, a customary family dinner is served via hot pot, where everyone at the table uses a hot pot of broth in the center of the table to cook their assortment of meats and vegetables. In the modern age, the age of smartphones, developed markets like Taiwan are extremely tech-savvy and most people are frequently glued to their phones. With the rising power of social media and continuous connectivity, families all over the world are noticing how smartphones are taking attention away from social interaction. Historically, enjoying dinner over a hot pot is a communal and social experience. But today, teens and parents alike are becoming so engrossed in their handheld technology that they don’t notice how much they are missing out on quality time with their loved ones. IKEA Taiwan created an innovative new product and ad campaign that showcases the growing smartphone addiction in a way that is all at once witty and humorous, while also a thought-provoking piece of social commentary.
Samantha Grossman’s article for TIME entitled IKEA Really Wants You to Put Your Phone Away and Enjoy Your Life explains IKEA Taiwan’s innovation: “Many of us also use our smartphones when we’re out to dinner with friends and family instead of, you know, engaging in human interaction. With that in mind, IKEA Taiwan has unveiled an invention to get us all to unplug during mealtime It’s a special hot pot table that’s powered by smartphones—so it requires everyone at the table to surrender their devices and place them below the pot. If someone removes his phone, the heat drops and the food will not get cooked properly (Grossman). In this way, IKEA Taiwan’s hot pot table serves as a behavioral control device that forces everyone at the table to be mentally present at the dinner table. While the dining family was originally taken aback by the prospect of parting from their technology, by the end of their meal they realize how much more enjoyable their dinner was without their phones. Waka at Appnova’s article entitled Five of the best IKEA marketing campaigns ever, highlights IKEA Taiwan’s “hyper-localised” hot pot campaign: “The campaign brings out a salient point to family dinner tables: the lack of meaningful conversations as everybody is just too busy checking their smartphones. Solution: A hot plate that will only turn on when there are enough phones under it. Outcome? Real human interaction and great customer experience. Not to mention that it generated a buzz too” (Waka). This ad spread like wildfire online and through social media, not just in Taiwan, but around the world. IKEA Taiwan’s hot pot table campaign created a widespread buzz because of its universal message that touched the hearts of people worldwide. Smartphone users around the globe, from Asia to Europe to the Americas and beyond, can relate to the feeling of emotional disconnect when it comes to using smartphones at the dinner table. Perhaps we should all invest in IKEA’s phoneless dinner table to get a break from the internet and focus on the people around the table who matter most.
Link to the official video: https://youtu.be/3qw7Gigsctk