Dear Ikea, Sweden wants its product names back


Olle Kirchmeier / Visiting Sweden

“Bolmen”, Sweden wants you to know, is more than just a toilet brush. It is a sparkling lake bordered by forests in the south of the country known for its clean water, boating, swimming and kayaking. Yet thanks to Ikea’s wide reach, where many products borrow their names from actual Swedish sites, most people are likely to know Bolmen as a bathroom cleaning kit.

Do not mistake yourself. As for the toilet brushes, this one has a sleek and sleek design. But the Swedish tourist board wants the other Bolmen to come to mind when people hear the word. He has launched a new marketing campaign called Discover the originals it’s grabbing those weird Ikea product names for the places they belong.

“Toftan, Ektorp, Voxnan, Hemsjö, Kallax… these are all wonderful places in Sweden. Yet most people associate these names with trash cans, sofas, bath towels, block candles and shelving systems, ”the tourist office says. “It is time for the world to know that these names belong to wonderful places in Sweden.”

The campaign focuses on 21 destinations, from Viking monuments to castles, silver mines and charming villages. Among the spots highlighted is Mästerby, which beyond being a practical stepladder is a historic site on the island of Gotland that marks a 1361 battle between the Swedes and Danish invaders. Then there is Järvfjället, a Lapland site of hiking and cross-country skiing trails (and also a office chair which comes in dark gray, blue and beige). And Toftan, a town much more picturesque than Ikea trash can that shares its name.


Toftan is definitely more than an Ikea trash can.

Mikael Svensson / Johner

The Discover the Originals campaign includes detailed general information about each destination, as well as ideas for activities and places to stay. This is probably a good thing, because searching Google for many sites will find Ikea products before all other search results.

Ikea did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the public relations push. But the campaign expresses its appreciation for the ubiquitous multinational corporation that designs and sells ready-to-assemble furniture and home accessories.

“In Sweden we are proud of Ikea and in a way you can tell that they have helped us to make Swedish places known all over the world by the names they have taken for their products” Nils Persson, Marketing Director of Visit Sweden, said in a statement. “Now we want, with warmth and a wink, to show off the originals behind the product names and invite the world to discover all of Sweden.”

At a time when global tourism has been hit by COVID-19, the suggested Swedish destinations look very appealing – almost as inviting as an Ektorp sofa.


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