Yeah, I’m not sure this is such a great idea….
IKEA announced the launch of their latest marketing campaign – The Life Improvement Project. As part of the campaign, IKEA will award someone $100,000 to walk away from work for a year and just ‘improve the life of others’.
“Whether you’d like to volunteer at a homeless shelter to start a non-profit organization, this contest gives one winner the opportunity to pursue their passions, and share their experience with the world.”
Don’t get me wrong, I think it is a great idea for companies to engage their employees in long term placement programs with non-profit partners. One of my friends, Quinn Bingham, now works as the Campaign Director at the United Way of Toronto as a direct result of such a program. Similarly, while the IBM Corporate Service Corps program is not a sabbatical year away from IBM it is another exemplary approach to the same idea. If you’re interested in these types of programs be sure to check out the Taproot Foundation or Catchafire for great ideas and programs.
There is a considerable difference, however, between placing an employee with a nonprofit organization for the purpose of developing that employee, and this latest cause marketing program at IKEA. Ogilvy & Mather, IKEA’s creative agency, developed the The Life Improvement Store concept. Along with the sabbatical year for some worthy consumer, they’ve also integrated in a series of 51 free Life Improvement Store Seminars for eager shoppers.
Not wanting to leave IKEA employees out in the cold, there is also the Life Improvement Co-Worker Challenge, which provides opportunities “to get further engaged in local community initiatives.” IKEA will run “an internal Life Improvement Co-Worker Challenge to provide $10,000 each to support five winning community projects suggested by teams of co-workers across the country.”
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