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Brief Published: 20 Jan 2015

Ikea Taps into the Power of Fans

One of Brit illustrator Sarah Horne's Ikea doodles

A brand’s best creative collaborators are its fans. It’s a marketing strategy embraced by Swedish homeware giant Ikea, which recently hired British illustrator Sarah Horne to be its official children’s illustrator at its Wembley store in the UK. Horne attracted online buzz late last year for her Ikea doodles – fantastical scenes superimposed onto photos from the store’s catalogue.

The jump from fan to brand ambassador is becoming ever more natural, offering businesses a hugely relatable voice through which to filter their message. "We know how easy it is to get bogged down in the craziness of everyday life, so we hired our children's illustrator in residence to put the wonder back into dining together," an Ikea spokesperson told US advertising magazine AdWeek.

Ikea has a strong record of deploying this kind of participatory tactic, as observed in our blog posts Ikea + Airbnb: Try Before You Buy and Retail Sleepovers.

For many brands, identifying talented fans to partner with is a challenge, with so many creative consumers spread out across social media channels, blogs and online communities. But new British start-up Fanbytes is attempting to be the middleman between brands and online influencers.

One of the first companies to work with Fanbytes was UK fashion chain New Look. The start-up connected it with Beckii Cruel, a British pop singer with close to 100,000 subscribers on YouTube. Cruel and New Look collaborated on a video contest, which drove a 45% increase in traffic to New Look’s site, according to Fanbytes.

The power of fans and fandom is something we explore in depth in our latest Industry Trend, Born On The Web.