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When IKEA’s food culture doesn’t match Taiwanese food culture…

IKEA’s yearly catalogue reveal is an incredible event around the world and this year’s version would showcase kitchen and dining products such as appliances, tables and place settings. Unfortunately, the company’s internal research showed that Taiwan is the market where consumers spend the LEAST on these products.

Open up any IKEA catalogue and you’ll see bright, cheery pictures of IKEA distinctively designed products. This might be how some cultures eat, but Taiwan is a little different. It is a country that is fiercely proud of its food culture. Night markets and street food fulfill the need for cheap food while, at the same time, pushing the boundaries for culinary excellence. These vendors are proving that great food can stand out in dark places that use plastic containers and cutlery to serve. Under these circumstances, Taiwanese are accustomed to a low-cost, low-budget dining experience and environment, disposable containers and plastic cutleries.

There’s nothing “IKEA” about that experience and Mediavest|Spark’s goal was to show people that even Taiwan’s street food culture could use an upgrade.


Teach people to “eat with their eyes”…

Getting people to see how Taiwan’s messy dining experience could benefit from IKEA would require a huge change in mindset. IKEA, as an outsider, was not essential or necessary to eating great food. To convert existing behaviour, the agency wanted Taiwan to focus their pride in their food culture and help them put it on a pedestal, show them how to savour and enjoy the moment instead of eating as quickly as possible to move on to the next task.

A-Zong Vermicelli is one of Taiwan’s most iconic street food vendors, serving locals for more than 50 years. It is famous for its delicious food and also a no-table-and-chair eating experience. It has become a typical scene in Taiwanese’s mind that hungry people standing around a crowded street corner to eat vermicelli with paper bowls and plastic spoons in hand.

The agency believes that people “eat with their eyes” and that a unique visual experience will uplift a good meal to a great meal. It upended people’s expectations of Taiwan’s food culture and placed IKEA’s products – tables, chairs, crockery and cutlery – outside of A-Zong, giving people a chance to eat with their eyes as well as their mouths.


Re-discovering the A-Zong experience…

The agency brought the iconic IKEA showroom experience to life outside of the iconic Taiwanese restaurant to give people a chance to feel what eating A-Zong is like with higher-quality crockery and cutlery settings. A long communal table of the Scandinavian retailer’s products was set out for people to sit down and enjoy a great Taiwanese meal with friends both old and new. Beautiful designed adorned the napkins and tablecloths, comfy chairs invited people to sit instead of stand and the entirety of the IKEA eating experience was brought to life for one busy day in the city.

Even as a one day experience, the agency was able to build an “evergreen” branded video that documented the very real reaction from A-Zong customers, international tourists, nearby residents or even passers-by. The video was put on Facebook, where majority of Taiwanese get their everyday headlines from, to ignite the excitement and conversation for IKEA. It also co-opted check-ins and hashtags from photos and posts at the iconic A-Zong spot through Facebook and Instagram, encouraging on-site customers and other netizens to share the joy.


Thanks to this flash event & branded video, IKEA saw an increase of both store visits and sales of eating/dining goods by 10% for each! IKEA became not only the hottest talk-of-town topic but also a huge phenomenon on the web. The agency successfully conveyed the concept that even the simplest street food can taste like luxurious restaurant with the help of IKEA’s magic.

Overall the campaign reached over two million people and the video broke the record of IKEA fanpage for 2015 with 780,000+ views. Also generated high engagement, with 20,171 likes, 2,036 shares and thousands of comments, which was five times compared to average performance of IKEA films.

On site customers surveyed claimed that their NT$50 food had tasted like USD$50 and most of all, it inspired many to take IKEA’s dining design to heart and helping them realise the proud Taiwanese eating experience could be even better at home.

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