NEW YORK: IKEA, the furniture retailer, has successfully engaged consumers and its staff members in the US by turning a select group of employees into content-marketing stars.

Alia Kemet, IKEA director/media in the US, discussed this subject at a session during Advertising Week 2015 in New York City.

And she referenced the IKEA Home Tour – where a small group of staff, handpicked from its network of 40 stores nationwide, travel across America and solve home design problems. They shoot and host video along the way, too.

Content from this program is spread on platforms like YouTube and Facebook, and the initiative has yielded millions of video views since launching last year.

"We're happy that consumers got behind it, but the added benefit of your co-workers getting behind it really has been tremendous," said Kemet. (For more, including further campaign details, read Warc's exclusive report: The IKEA Home Tour: turning employees into marketing stars.)

IKEA is a comparative veteran in the content-marketing arena, having pursued pioneering efforts such as "Easy to Assemble", a comedic web series that debuted in 2008 and ran for four seasons.

"We've been doing branded entertainment for quite some time now," she said. "And we've used celebrity chefs, and we've used celebrity designers, and celebrity actresses to talk about the value of IKEA, and to talk about our home furnishings, and to tell our story."

Although these affiliations attracted attention, they did not always achieve the desired resonance, partly as the recommended solutions often seemed unobtainable in practice. "What we found was [that] the emotional connection wasn't as strong," Kemet said.

"A few years ago, I pitched this idea of: 'Well, let's do content marketing. Let's do a digital series about IKEA co-workers going out on the road and making over homes and inspiring people through home furnishings.'"

Following an in-house casting call, though, it became clear the firm had some expert and engaging in-house talent to call upon – and the material they delivered then allayed the pre-campaign fears.

"And the funny thing about it is everyone from the CEO to the co-worker got behind this IKEA Home Tour," she said.

Data sourced from Warc