welcome to Orange county steals IKEA

New creative agency Welcome to Orange County has created quite a stir already by nabbing IKEA as a client - they made it into the Financial Times and adageglobal. We had a little chat with one of the founders John Schoolcraft about danish agencies and Ikea...


IKEA, the Stockholm-based Swedish furnishings company, has rattled Danish pride by snubbing local agencies to hand its $6 million creative account to Spanish ad-agency Welcome to Orange County (WTOC), headquartered in Mallorca. Ikea executives in Denmark described the country's leading creative agencies as "old-fashioned and straitlaced" in their thinking.

... read more for the chat with John.

db: Is Ikeas impression of danish advertising correct? are the agencies - even the big creative ones - "old-fashioned and straitlaced"?

John:I think Ikea's interpretation of the Danish advertising market is dead on in regard to the way they work and how they see the future. The problem for a company like Ikea in Denmark is that most agencies are unwilling to rethink their existence or find any new ways of working because it conflicts with their billing structure, staff, personal pride, or unwillingness to risk anything whatsoever.

In Denmark, you have a large number of big network owned agencies that control most of the market. What you won't find is any creative, forward-thinking agencies in the last five years that are self-financed. That haven't received their start capital from one of the network agencies. If you look at Stockholm for example there is a major shift of the top 10 agencies every three years or so, mostly by unsatisfied creatives who want to prove they can do things better. Such a turnover is healthy.

At the same time, there are a few really good, highly creative agencies in Denmark. The problem is that Denmark is a small country with a very limited creative talent pool. Competition spurns brilliance. But I don't see this as a deterrent, things can change and change is good.

db: Is that a local danish problem, or is it more widespread in adland?

John: I am sure that a lot of these issues are prevalent in other countries.

db: true. What do you guys think about the amount of Danish ad people going to Cannes, vs. the amount of Danish work even shortlisted in Cannes? Waste of money, perpetual "I hope we win" positiveness? Whats up with that?

John: As far as I know, we are still living in a free world, so as long as people can get their agencies to foot the bill when they go to Cannes and party for a week, I guess that's up to them. Cannes is used as kind of a bonus for keeping good talent happy but it often turns into a great week where you can lay in the sun and party. But you can get a lot more out of Cannes than a hangover.

As far as Cannes winners, most of the Danish creative work is very Danish, and that doesn't really translate well outside of Denmark. There are a few agencies who have done well in recent years thought and I guess that's a good sign as long as agencies don't make winning prizes in Cannes their sole priority, because in that case they are doing their clients a grave injustice.

db:You educate your clients, rather than educating new AE's. Are clients quicker learners, or what's wrong with AEs?

John: We don't believe in filters. We only believe in individuals empowered to solve complex problems. Does that answer your question?

db: Oh yes. I know exactly what you mean. Cheers for the chat, John! And good luck with WtOC guys.

Comments (3)

  • Robblink's picture

    I wonder if John is a fan of Jack Black's movie Orange County or if he's a fan of No Doubt (also of Orange County).

    Jun 06, 2003
  • AnonymousCoward's picture
    AnonymousCoward (not verified)

    Not really

    Jun 07, 2003
  • Dabitch's picture

    then where did that name come from? :)

    Jun 07, 2003

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about the author

Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.