Balenciaga vs FRAKTA

Luxury Imitates Practicality

When a French fashion house lifted an iconic Swedish design for their new high-end bag, one creative agency saw an opportunity to play.

Oscar Wilde once said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. When money and status are involved however, this is rarely – if ever – seen to be the case.

After all, cheap knockoffs of luxury brands are a common occurrence in the fashion industry, and despite there not being a great deal of protection against design piracy some labels have landed themselves in hot water over copyright infringement (see Givenchy vs. Nasty Gal).

So when boutique French fashion house Balenciaga recently debuted a blue Carry Shopper bag at a not-inconsiderable $2610 Australian dollars, which seemed to mimic FRAKTA, IKEA’s classic $1 plastic bag, IKEA’s response instantly elevated Balenciaga’s imitation to viral status, all while affirming the iconic nature of their own product.

IKEA ads normally don’t focus too much on the use of the product (especially for a seemingly straightforward plastic bag that is normally found at the checkout). However, the clear visual link between the two products gave one of IKEA’s regular collaborators, Swedish creative agency ACNE, a unique window to shed new light on the company’s classic bag.

In six easy lines of copy pointing out how to tell if your FRAKTA is authentic, they also manage to illustrate the versatility, practicality and real-life uses of the IKEA bag, making this ad serve multiple ends. Part of the genius of the advertisement emerges from how it plays off the conceit of high-end fashion brands, skewering their pretension by giving tips on how to distinguish an authentic FRAKTA bag from the Balenciaga knock off.

“Unexpected and brilliant’.

It all displays an ingenuity and agility that goes way beyond business-as-usual advertising, allowing IKEA to truly capitalise on an out-of-the-blue branding opportunity.

ACNE focuses on the functionality and practical materials used to make the original FRAKTA stand out.

When that opportunity presented, ACNE’s Creative Director Johan Holgrem wanted to act fast, telling Creativity that he contacted their client the day after Balenciaga’s release to say “We’ll have the creative to you in two hours.”

ANCE’s in-house fashion photographer, Anders Kylberg, began shooting right away, using the FRAKTA bag with similar stylings to those used by Balenciaga. The ad then quickly went out to IKEA markets all over the globe.

Holgrem considered the French fashion house’s creative nod to IKEA as “unexpected and brilliant”. He stated, “I like the flirt and I thought, ‘Why not flirt back?’ And we did.”

Balenciaga is yet to comment on ACNE’s flirtatious ways.

Cheeky advertisements that grab the media’s attention are a common trend with IKEA (see: 2016 Let’s Relax campaign). Relating their ads to current events with such responsiveness allows IKEA to maintain visibility in the fast-paced and ever changing media landscape, while their products remain standard, simple and timeless.

And although other companies may use similar techniques, there are few that have hit the nail on the head quite as well as IKEA managed here with the FRAKTA.

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When a French fashion house lifted an iconic Swedish design for their new high-end bag, one creative agency saw an opportunity to play.

Tessa Rigby Receptionist at Sense
Tessa Rigby
Content Coordinator