2/22/2016

Ikea's "Chuck out your chintz" ads changed British taste, says the man who wrote the slogan


Design Indaba 2016: the 1996 ad campaign that encouraged British housewives to throw away their fussy furnishings helped transform attitudes to design, according to ad executive Naresh Ramchandani (+ movie).

Ramchandani, who wrote the slogan and the song that accompanied the TV advert, said the campaign ushered in a new era of clean, contemporary design to the average British household.

"It was proper piece of propaganda; total propaganda," Ramchandani told Dezeen. "We pitched for it and we won with a preposterous idea: our strategy was to change British taste over the next five years.

Ramchandani agreed that the campaign achieved its aim, becoming part of a wider cultural and social sea change that gained momentum with Tony Blair's election victory the following year.

"Tony Blair sweeping to power really helped it, because in Britain it felt like it was time for a new broom," said Ramchandani, speaking to Dezeen after speaking at the Design Indaba conference in Cape Town last week.

"There was even a headline in The Daily Express I think, which said 'Downing Street chucks out its chintz' when John Major left and Tony Blair came in."

At first, however, the ad caused a furore. "There was a massive backlash," said Ramchandani. "[Actress] Kathy Burke said the phrase was the worst thing in the world. Traditionalists obviously hated it."

Ramchandani, now a partner at design agency Pentagram in London, came up with the idea while working at St Luke's, the advertising agency he co-founded....more 

At the time Ikea was struggling to sell its cheap, modern furniture in the UK, where consumers still preferred old-fashioned furnishings epitomised by chintz, a type of highly patterned printed cotton with a shiny finish that was widely used for upholstery and curtains.

"'Chuck out your chintz' started with an observation on how Ikea was doing in the country at the time, in 1996, when their furniture wasn't really going down very well," said Ramchandani, who realised that the ad needed to target women, who made most of the decisions regarding the home but who were not interested in Ikea's brand of cheery Modernism....more