Meeting meatball makers of the future
What's one of the most-loved IKEA products? Meatballs (and plant-based balls, of course!). Using our iconic treat to entice top tech talents, our award-winning recruitment film had applicants hungry for a career at IKEA.
Although our strong heritage is part of our success, IKEA has always looked to “a glorious future!”, as founder Ingvar Kamprad used to say. From sustainable solutions to smart homes and even smarter food, with a focus on innovation, we are working to create a better tomorrow for people and the planet.
In 2022, as part of a recruitment drive to fill 150 technology roles within IKEA, together with Stockholm-based agency INGO and London-based Ogilvy PR, we launched the “Taste the Future” campaign, together with a short film. For years we’ve been developing products through 3D printing and working with food proteins to create healthy, sustainable meals. We decided to combine the two, to create 3D printed experimental plant-based meatballs to serve up to selected tech-savvy job candidates during lunch interviews.
“IKEA is at the start of a journey to embrace data and technology to become more affordable, accessible and sustainable in an omnichannel environment. Naturally people with imagination will play a big role in that quest. So here we’re looking for people who want to create a better everyday life with us. This campaign is a great way to start the conversation”, says Inter IKEA Group CIO Pascal Pauwels.
Watch the award-winning film
With competition from big tech giants such as Google and Apple, attracting and retaining tomorrow’s innovators can be challenging. But technology and value-driven leaders are essential, even to a humble furniture retailer from Småland. So how do you attract great minds from the tech community? Well, by what we know best: life at home, the many people and, of course, meatballs -we invited them over for lunch!
“At a time when other brands were talking about tech, we wanted to talk about being human;” explains Karen Rivoire, Employment Brand Leader at Inter IKEA. And so, with a comparatively small budget, the 3D printed meatball campaign was born.
For the lucky ones who received the unlikely lunch invitation, it was a surreal experience, as interviewee and now user interface designer at IKEA, József Schaffer recalls, “First, I felt very special, because I’ve never tasted 3D printed meatballs. It was presented in this typical IKEA fashion, there was an empty plate with a meatball in the middle. It was like those Japanese unboxing shows. It was very minimalist and Scandinavian. I really enjoyed that.”
When the film was shared in a press release and on the professional networking portal LinkedIn in February last year, it generated 5.42 billion impressions. But the best measure of its success must be that in the month following the campaign, over 23,000 visited the recruitment site (compared to 446 in the month prior to the launch), of which 5,277 applied for tech-related roles. “When I saw the campaign I thought it was really futuristic and in a sense, it was very IKEA, very forward-looking, and totally spot on for IKEA,” says József. “I didn’t really associate IKEA with tech, but when you start to look at the details, the technology is in place and it’s there. It was surprising for me to realise this,” he admits.
Interviewees tuck in at the work lunch
Taste the Future has also won critical praise. In addition to taking home a coveted bronze Cannes Lions Award, its most recent accolade is the Swedish Guldägget innovation award. “Guldägget” or the Gold Egg award is Sweden’s oldest and biggest communication competition. According to the jury’s motivation, the top honour in the innovation category won for “its simplicity and ingenious tone.” Although for Karen and the team the success of the campaign is twofold; “the awards are a great recognition, but more importantly, we learned a lot and IKEA can be bold when we believe in our differences.”
And finally, what we’ve all been wondering; how do IKEA 3D printed meatballs taste? “Interesting, not at all what I was expecting,” says József...diplomatically.
Hungry for a career at IKEA?
Although the Taste the Future campaign has ended, at IKEA, we're always looking for people who share our values, for a huge range of roles. Could you be our next IKEA co-worker?