Advertising with the Shining

Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1980 horror film “The Shining” is one of the most unique and, (depending on who you ask), one of the scariest movies every made. Some people find it merely odd and off-putting, while others, including myself, are terrified by the psychological isolation and supernatural feel of people slowly losing their minds and lives in the great white north.

Ikea apparently thought the movie would be a great way to sell furniture. No, really, they did, and it didn’t end up all that badly. Check out the ad below:

And here is the referenced scene from the movie:

The ad manages to invoke the labyrinthine hallways of “The Shining”s winter lounge, though, to be honest, IKEA is just as much of a maze. The Swedish giant has managed to make its massive stores just as confusing as secluded winter lodges.

The ad is just in time for Halloween, which makes sense, but also highlights two important concepts IKEA uses well, and sometimes often.

  • IKEA uses weird and quirky ads. I touched on this in an earlier post, but they aren’t known for generic ads that highlight their products and discuss the company. Instead, they make giant billboards you can climb, or do other weird and unique ads.
  • Using references people can get. Kubrick’s movie is well-known, and appears in many aspects of pop culture. “Redrum, “Here’s Johnny,” and many other sayings from the movie have been incorporated into ads, and even jokes on SNL. Using concepts people can say “Oh, that’s what that’s from,” can help your brand stay relevant and create positive connotations between IKEA and creativity.

However, the big issue is this: does the ad work? Trying to sell things based on fear can work. Vaccine sales in flu seasons, canned goods during war, and even gas in times of crisis in the Middle East are all examples of this. But furniture? Yes, I understand that the ad is meant to tie in to the Halloween season, and isn’t really meant to be a direct advertisement for the furniture, but shouldn’t it be, at least just a little bit? Watching the kid trike (is that a word?) around a dark IKEA just makes me want to go there with a group equipped with flashlights and weapons, not go buy sleek Swedish furniture.

Hopefully the ad helps keep IKEA cool, unique, hip, and fresh, and doesn’t scare away the easily frightened like me.



IKEA Singapore. October 20, 2014. IKEA Halloween. Retrieved October 22, 2014.

xNeigax. August 24, 2009. The Shining – Hallway Scene. Retrieved October 22, 2014


4 thoughts on “Advertising with the Shining

  1. I really love this commercial. Personally, I don’t like shopping at IKEA for this exact reason. The maze-like layout that you have to go through in order to exit the store really makes me anxious. This commercial pays off of that and references a damn good movie. Plus, it shows that the superstore has a sense of humor and spirit.


  2. I think this commercial is a cool idea. First of all, I like how it portrays IKEA as a maze, because I know I can never shop there without getting lost at least three times. But as far as the appeal the ad has, I think it is a unique marketing strategy that utilizes a theme that nobody else has really done before. Classic horror films like “The Shining” have developed almost a cult following over the years among viewers so relating their ads to the film is likely to attract some of these fans.


  3. I actually love this commercial. When I was in IKEA for the first time I was so intimidated by how big it was and wondered if I would actually find something I needed for my room. IKEA is without a doubt definitely a maze to many of us. It is easy to get lost and distracted in a store that is its size. I think it was effective because not only did they create a commercial that people could make a personal connection to (watching the movie “the shining” but it also incorporated the product/products which was IKEA and all of its lovely furniture.


  4. I love this! I am always so impressed by IKEA’s unique advertisements. This Halloween ad does a great job at catching the viewer’s attention. Most adults, IKEA’s target audience, are familiar with the shining and can make the comparison between the ad and the movie. The advertisement really captures one of shoppers favorite things about IKEA, the maze!


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