ELITE BUSINESS: IKEA’s World Cup fan response a lesson to all

As the hopes of England supporters get higher each day, excitement was on another level as the international football team defeated Sweden – a result that saw IKEA dragged into the mix

Like Coca-Cola and Pepsi, there’s no question Burger King and McDonald’s are rivals. Unlike Burger King though, McDonald’s doesn’t seem to have much sense of humour about the fast-food face-off that the royal maker of burgers often tries to ignite. A perfect example of this would be back in 2015 when Burger King suggested a partnership with McDonald’s to create a McWhopper for the International Day of Peace and make love not war.

However, like a class clown being scolded by a stern teacher, Steve Easterbrook, McDonald’s CEO, replied with a rather flat: "Let's acknowledge that between us there is simply a friendly business competition and certainly not the unequalled circumstances of the real pain and suffering of war."

Er, okay, mate. Needless to say, Easterbrook’s statement, which was published on the McDonald’s Facebook page, left a bad taste in the mouths of fans and the CEO was deemed “boring AF”.  

Perhaps IKEA just didn’t want to be deemed “boring AF” or maybe it actually encourages its marketing team to be creative but, whatever the reason, there’s no question that the Swedish flatpack retail giant dealt with a bizarre turn of events following a World Cup match like it was all in a day’s job.

On Saturday July 7, England went head-to-head against Sweden during the quarter-finals and, with England victorious, a bunch of overexcited fans went storming into a store celebrating by dancing around and jumping over furniture.

This could have been handled in two obvious ways by IKEA. Option A: ignore it. Option B: Issue a generic corporate statement slamming the behaviour. But there was a third option that the business decided to embrace, however, as an IKEA spokesperson said: “We are aware of a small group of fans celebrating the match result in one of our stores. Being both British and Swedish, we were on the edge of our seats during the game and we would like to say ‘grattis!’ (that’s congratulations in Swedish) to the England team for getting through to the semi-finals.”

Of course, this negative could have simply remained just that but David Alexander, managing director at Calacus PR, the sport-centric agency think turning it into a positive was the best thing possible. “That makes them appear more human and more reasonable than many brands who might have been quick to condemn bad behaviour,” he claimed.

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