‘Peeing On This Ad May Change Your Life’

‘Peeing On This Ad May Change Your Life’

The world of advertising and marketing is competitive with creative professionals going to all sorts of lengths to cajole customers into spending their hard-earned cash. One of the most trusted tools is the good old discount and who needs a helping hand on saving bucks more than an expectant parent? IKEA is currently offering discounts to expectant mums as long as they prove they’re pregnant. Enter – the pregnancy-test-in-a-catalogue.

Store-bought pregnancy tests are pretty simple. The expectant mother urinates on a stick, waits a little while and an indicator on the stick changes to indicate the news. They work by detecting a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in the urine. This is produced shortly after conception.

IKEA’s idea is that if you place a drop of wee on the page, it will react with a substance embedded in the paper to reveal a discounted price. It’s a pregnancy test pretending to be a catalog. Or is should that be the other way around?

Philip Owens, the Principle of The Bigger Game and former Head of Global Strategic Marketing for Bayer Pharmaceuticals said “You’ve got the shock value. They’re looking for viral pickup. It’s almost outrage marketing”.

He adds that they’ll have massive challenges delivering it as well.

There’s no word on when the tech will be rolled out or if this is simply a viral marketing hoax. If it’s true, we can expect IKEA staff to start wearing HAZMAT suits and for bio-hazard bins to be around the checkout area.

So, what’d IKEA’s aim here? Catriona Pollard, the CEO of CP Communications, said the company is looking at “talkability”.

“There must be a big reason for doing this. From a marketing perspective it’s brilliant. People are talking about IKEA and family products”.

But she also says the offer could be seen as sexist, describing it as “bizarre”.

This is not the first time stores have tried to cash in on pregnant folks when offering discounts. In one infamous case a few years ago, Target in the US used analytics on shopping data to track where customers might be pregnant. The company determined that regular purchasing of a suite of 25 products gave them a high degree of confidence that the buyer was pregnant. That allowed them to send targeted ads and specials to the expectant mum.

However, in one case, an angry parent chastised the store as they were sending pregnancy and baby-related ads to his high-school student daughter. The father ended up apologising saying “It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of. She’s due in August. I owe you an apology”.

As companies look to target us more closely with ads and offers that appeal to our very personal needs, we can expect this kind of invasive targeting to become even more prominent. But there will be a need for companies to ensure they don’t get creepy and alienate customers.


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