Ikea April Fool’s Prank: A cue to other brands to champion playtime

April Fool’s Day is a fun tradition where people and brands carry out silly pranks upon the world. What’s great about April Fool’s Day is how it pushes boundaries and pokes on some controversial topics, often revealing some of society’s hidden anxieties. And last week’s prank by Ikea Singapore came to reveal one of Singapore’s: technology devices replacing physical playtime.

Ikea’s April Fool’s Prank:

On 31 March, Ikea Singapore revealed they were going to transform their indoor playground into a “press-play-ground,” replacing playground equipment with sitting pods and electronic tablets. Ikea said their decision was made after seeing studies that children preferred tablets over physical activity.

As you may have guessed, many parents reacted strongly. Parents were shocked and wanted to know why playtime was being replaced with technology time.

The next day Ikea revealed it was an April Fool’s joke, with Ikea declaring its belief that physical play is crucial to a child’s growth, happiness and development. A sigh of relief must have swept across the faces of Singapore’s mums. Many expressed their support for the prank saying it gave them much to reflect.

At Be An Idea, we believe Ikea’s prank reveals something insightful: we’ve reached a breaking point and brands can play a role in tackling this problem. Playtime has slowly been chipped away in our little red dot, being replaced with technological devices and time-consuming examinations. On April 1st, parents confirmed that physical playtime was an important component to childhood, and they didn’t want to part with it any further.

How Brands Can Champion Playtime:

Now that it’s on the consciousness of Singaporeans, there’s an opportunity for other brands to carry the torch of physical playtime further. Ikea raised public consciousness and now other brands can bring action.

Here are some tips for brands who are interested in taking this forward:

1.     Establish your brand’s connection to playtime

You don’t need to be a toy brand to promote playtime, but you need to establish a logical connection to it. Unilever’s global laundry detergent brand, OMO, did a great job creating its connection to playtime with its “Dirt is Good” ethos. “Dirt is Good” believes getting dirty is important to a child’s growth, and so encourages outdoor play to parents and children. And when kids inevitably get dirty, OMO is there to get out those pesky stains. See the connection to the brand and to playtime?

2.     Enlist credible government and non-profit allies

Let’s face it. You probably don’t know what’s needed to address the problem. The last thing you want to do is launch an initiative without credibility and without an understanding of the problem. Fix that by finding local partners to join you. According to our 2016 Collaborative Brand Report, 60% of Singaporeans agree they are “more trusting of brand campaigns supporting social causes when government and non-profit partners are involved.”

3.     Get your customers involved

Lastly, we want any initiative to be more than a one-off execution like Ikea’s. We want it to be sustainable. We encourage brands get their customers involved to justify the cost of the initiative. Trust us, customers like getting involved. In fact, according to our upcoming Purpose-Driven Millennials survey 82% of Millennials we surveyed like it when companies “create product, services or initiatives that address the issue” and 68% have “purchase a product where a portion of the proceeds went to a cause.”

There’s certainly an opportunity for other brands to take this forward. It just requires a bit of passion and a bit of planning. If you're looking for some insights on how your brand can take the first step, sign up for our newsletter below!