Why Ikea’s ASMR Back to College Campaign Is A Tingly Win

new Ikea campaign

Ikea campaign

Though it’s been a while since I went Back to College shopping (hint: Jennifer Lopez was still Jenny from the Block), the process isn’t something I’d ever call relaxing. The combination of a big box retailer the size of a city block, the blast of too-cold air conditioning, and the unflattering glow of fluorescent lights creates quite an unsavory memory.

Kids today have it so much better. They can shop for their campus wares from the comfort of their own bed, all the while streaming Riverdale and texting with their #bae. And now, thanks to Ikea’s newest Back to College campaign, they can shop for their dorm while getting their ASMR tingles on.

Ikea campaign: Back to College sensory video

Ikea campaign: Back to College

For those who aren’t familiar with ASMR, or autonomous sensory meridian response, is a relaxing mental state characterized by a tingling sensation on the scalp. Commonly, it’s triggered by visual and acoustic stimuli, like scratching, tapping and caressing. Over the past several years, YouTube has become a haven for the ASMR community, racking up over 4 million videos dedicated to what ASMR enthusiasts call an “art form.”

Ikea’s ASMR campaign, titled “Oddly Ikea,” takes the viewer through a tingly 25-minute tour of a typical Ikea dorm room— the touch of the fitted sheet, the tap of lamp, the melodic chime of metal hangers. It’s true to ASMR-style, with a simple, binaural voice over, slow pace and plethora of deliberate hand gestures. Though no “ASMR artists” are used, Ikea clearly did their homework to give the campaign an authentic feel.

As a dabbler of ASMR (I’ve never watched a beauty tutorial I didn’t like), I’m impressed with how true Ikea stayed to the medium. Some people may not get it (read: Parents), but for college-aged Gen Z’s, this campaign kills two birds with one stone: it educates them on dorm room products and helps them relax. I’d argue this campaign, along with the shorter 30-second and 60-second spots, may even transcend the Back to Campus shopping season. Typical ASMR videos are often watched multiple times by one user, putting usage well into the millions. All Ikea needs is one post on an ASMR Reddit and it could be the next fan favorite.

What the campaign also proves is that brands don’t need loud pop music, augmented reality selfies and interactive emojis to be successful. Kids today have enough stimuli. They just want to relax.


Know what’s next. Become a WGSN member today to benefit from our daily trend intelligence, retail analytics, consumer insights and bespoke consultancy services.