Posted by: nickgerlich | January 27, 2008

Stunt Man

There’s nothing like a good gimmick to get people’s attention. It’s like going fishing with the best bait possible, and bringing home a trophy bass. At the personal level, you can use it to launch a career, write a book, catapult to stardom. At the corporate level, you may see a sales explosion.

IKEAWhich is precisely why tongues are wagging over the recent publicity stunt orchestrated by Mark Malkoff, a comedian/filmmaker, and IKEA, the trendy Swedish furniture retailer.

Nutshell: Mark’s New York apartment needs to be fumigated, and he and his wife need to find alternate living quarters for a week. Mark searches high and low, but find NYC hotel prices to be far worse than the price of a tank of gas. He stumbhles upon an idea: Why not live at IKEA? His apartment is already 80% IKEA furniture anyway. There’s 100,000 square feet of living space, running water, heat. It’s furnished. What else could a person want? IKEA buys in, and Mark moves in (minus his wife, who apparently wanted more pirvacy than the security guards could offer).

The result is a heapin’ helpin’ of publicity, as well as a lot of short film clips (click here to see them all).

Cheap stunt by another starving artist? Insidious plot by IKEA to weasel their way onto your computer screen? Or both? You decide, but the result is a lot of cheap viral marketing.

It’s not much different from the Dallas guy in the late-90s who lived online an entire year, never leaving his front yard (he had everything delivered one way or the other), or A.J. Jacobs, who recently penned The Year Of Living Biblically. Holy Moses, Batman! I smell money!

Malkoff’s stunt is funny, albeit lacking in credibility. It smacks of preachers sitting on roofs if Sunday School attendance suprasses a certain mark, or even Criss Angel living inside a huge bubble. I cannot imagine any retailer allowing a week-long resident, unless they also caught the whiff of greenbacks.

But therein lies the rub. Publicity need not be credible to be effective. People are often willing to suspend reason and rationality in return for entertainment, and Malkoff and IKEA both have done us well on this one.

And like I just said to my wife regarding our living room project, “Hey, we need to make a run to Dallas to visit IKEA.” I have a suspicion that’s exactly what IKEA had in mind.

Dr “Better Hook Up The Trailer” Gerlich

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