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When life hands you an IKEA commercial – You roar with it!

You know the saying ‘right place, right time?’ Well that was yours truly not so long ago. For this post I’m stepping away from my usual restaurant reviews and holiday tips. Instead I’ll be telling you the story of how I came to appear in the new Summer 2017 IKEA TV and online campaign. I know?! Me? Right? Sitting comfortably for my very random tale?

An unexpected commercial audition!

An unexpected commercial audition!  When life hands you an IKEA commercial - You roar with it!

Rewind a month to a phone call at work from my eldest daughter, Radha’s agent. Yes. She has an agent. Not because I’m a jazz hands tiger mum you understand. Merely a consequence from her weekly Saturday drama class at YATI, who also run their own young actors agency YAT Management. Unfortunately for Radha, with two working parents her dreams of stardom are somewhat thwarted as bailing work to attend casting calls is not really an option. Packing her off to drama classes was never really about seeking fame, more about boosting her confidence and broadening her horizons. There’s no denying she has come on leaps and bounds since attending YATI.

The audition was for an IKEA ad.

The role that of a young girl playing with her daddy who happens to be a lion. If you’ve ever watched an IKEA ad you’ll understand this is a completely plausible scenario. With the planets aligned on this occasion I took her to Covent Garden the next day.

Radha was called in and I waited patiently outside. A few minutes later a head poked out the door and asked me to pop in for second. Thinking the director may want to ask my permission on something I casually sauntered in. Instead I was faced with the question ‘would you fancy doing something for us, we have a mum role in this ad too?’ Well, if you know me, you can probably guess how I reacted. For those who don’t, it went something like this – Hands folded. Stand-offish stance. Nostrils flared. Perplexed expression, bordering on disgust. Retorting ‘What? Me?’

Mr S’s response when I regaled the tale back to him – ‘Most people would be overjoyed to be asked to audition for an ad, only you would be annoyed at the prospect’. True. Although I’d like to call it a tactical manoeuvre. To cut a long story short my myriad of facial expressions in that short space of time basically inspired some creatives to give me the part.

For Radha it came down to the moment when they asked her to growl to lion-daddy like a baby lion. Now we were just back from a South African safari, where the girls had watched a pride of lions polish off a zebra with some aplomb. Radha, bless her put her skills to good use and kind of went method. So much so that the showbiz tiger mums in the waiting room turned to their offspring and whispered ‘if they tell you to roar, roar like her!’ Unfortunately after the second recall they decided to go for a much younger child than Radha, so our dreams of a mother daughter dream team ended abruptly. Oh well!

Left with the prospect of telling my daughter that ‘Cruella de Mum’ had in fact stolen her job and crushed her dreams I was filled with dread. I should give her more credit. She is my daughter after all. Her response of ‘Well done mummy! You won’t get many opportunities like this, I’ll get loads’, still left me in turmoil, mind you. Proud on one hand for the wisdom beyond her years, then slightly irked at the inadvertent ageist dig!

An unexpected commercial audition!  When life hands you an IKEA commercial - You roar with it!

So filming day arrived!

I was booked for three days, one for a 60 second TV commercial and two days for online shorts. It was an early call and I hopped into the car which whizzed me to the studio and headed straight into makeup and wardrobe. Mwah, mwah sweetie-daahling.

An unexpected commercial audition!  When life hands you an IKEA commercial - You roar with it!

Coming from the world of TV, it felt bizarre being on the other side of the camera. Usually I’m the one organising make up and wardrobe schedules and ensuring it all runs on time. This time it was someone else’s problem.

An unexpected commercial audition!  When life hands you an IKEA commercial - You roar with it!

Playing a mum I had a whole rail of very mumsy clothes. Not my usual style I have to admit, but at least I was comfy throughout the day. Well until they made me change into a tennis dress ensemble. That’s one look I’m not so into!

An unexpected commercial audition!  When life hands you an IKEA commercial - You roar with it!

Filmed at Black Island Studios just off the A40, the three very long filming days were spent rotating around three different IKEA living room sets. It was a good job I was under no illusion of the so called ‘glamour’ of filming. Although I can’t deny I did have fun with my IKEA lion husband and IKEA daughter, but the hanging around between scenes can be very tiresome (without trying to sound like too much of a diva). Oh and I also spent most of my day lusting over everything on the sets. You see that yellow wingback armchair I’m sat on, I totally need it in my life – so comfy!

An unexpected commercial audition!  When life hands you an IKEA commercial - You roar with it!

The campaign launched across the UK and Ireland on the 15th July and focuses on the living room with the slogan ‘Relax Into Greatness’ and is part of the larger ‘Wonderful Everyday’ IKEA campaign. The commercial parodies a wildlife documentary and follows the ‘Lion Man’ lounging around his room before being disturbed by his daughter and friends. The aim of the campaign is to help us all reclaim our living room as a space of relaxation.

When life hands you an IKEA commercial - You roar with it!

To my delight I had a lot of relaxing scenes to film. This is me acting all chilled out on some wicker furniture in my fake garden whilst my feline other half and daughter shot their scenes in the living room.

An unexpected commercial audition!  When life hands you an IKEA commercial - You roar with it!

There were also ten 15 second shorts filmed for digital and social media purposes which will be rolled out from now through to September 15th.

An unexpected commercial audition!  When life hands you an IKEA commercial - You roar with it!

An unexpected commercial audition!  When life hands you an IKEA commercial - You roar with it!

I found myself in some very funny scenarios with my IKEA family which will all be revealed in the digital campaign.

An unexpected commercial audition!  When life hands you an IKEA commercial - You roar with it!

Even my girls made it onto one of the sets, be it in the form of family pictures hanging on the wall. The top one is Radha in Sicily and Asha below her in South Africa and finally my safari shot of a kudu in the wild.

I was definitely stepping out of my comfort zone when I agreed to the commercial, but so glad I did. It was a fantastic experience with my fellow actors and a great crew.

After all the edits in the TV ad I am but a blur behind the kids running in and then in the final shot relaxing in the background with a book. In a 6o second commercial quite hard to see.

Nevertheless it just goes to show, you never really know what’s around the corner (maybe even a lion!). The best things happen unexpectedly! And it will definitely be a story to tell at a dinner party.

If you haven’t already caught the commercial on TV or the cinema screen yet. Here it is…

UPDATE

Here are the 15 second shorts I worked on for the IKEA online campaign. Bit more of a starring role in these:

Game, Set and Match!

My wannabe ‘Friends’ scene

Don’t touch my cake!

Badminton anyone?

Don’t even get off the phone when filming a commercial!

Check mate!

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30 Comments

  • Mo 24th July 2017 at 6:02 am

    Brilliant! X

  • Anonymous 24th July 2017 at 8:29 am

    Woohoo! Well done!!

  • The Purley Girly 24th July 2017 at 9:02 am

    This is so exciting!! Well done you, I work in TV, so I feel your pain about the waiting around on sets. What a fabulous opportunity though.

    • Sima Sthanakiya 24th July 2017 at 9:19 pm

      It was a great experience. Where do you work lovely?

  • Julie Bonaparte 24th July 2017 at 10:13 am

    Well done Sima

    • Sima Sthanakiya 24th July 2017 at 9:20 pm

      Thanks Julie! x

  • Aaron (@1dish4theroad) 24th July 2017 at 11:27 am

    Great story, Sima! (Next stop: HOLLYWOOD!!..)

    • Sima Sthanakiya 24th July 2017 at 9:21 pm

      Haha Aaron! Definitely one for a dinner party hey?!

  • Reena @ The Lifestyle Enthusiast 24th July 2017 at 12:02 pm

    What an amazing opportunity, love that you just went for it; your girls must be proud! Will watch out for you on TV!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 24th July 2017 at 9:22 pm

      Thanks Reena. So random though but a great experience. The girls were pretty chuffed at seeing mummy with a lion.

  • Lynne Harper 24th July 2017 at 1:22 pm

    Oh my goodness well done you, this is absolutely fantastic and my dream. Im such a massive Ikea fan in fact my home looks like an Ikea show room haha x

    • Sima Sthanakiya 24th July 2017 at 9:22 pm

      Oh Lynne, so am I. My house is pretty Ikea-fied. Thank you!

  • Sarah Bailey 24th July 2017 at 1:41 pm

    Now that is an unexpected turn for you! Well done and good for you for stepping out of your comfort zone as well.

    • Sima Sthanakiya 24th July 2017 at 9:23 pm

      Cheers Sarah. I’m more a behind the camera girl.

  • Kara 24th July 2017 at 3:00 pm

    Love it……how exciting for you and your daughter. I was in an advert once too – sadly not blurred out and I still cringe when I think about it. It wasn’t a cool ad like IKEA

    • Sima Sthanakiya 24th July 2017 at 9:24 pm

      Oh really? What was it for? You have to spill now? I’m blurred out in the TV commercial, but you can’t miss me in the online shorts we filmed.

  • Ashleigh Dougherty 24th July 2017 at 5:49 pm

    What an amazing experience! I love this advert and will definitely look out for it on the tv/cinema!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 24th July 2017 at 9:25 pm

      Thanks Ashleigh. I had a lot of fun making it.

  • Elizabeth allcock 24th July 2017 at 6:41 pm

    Great advert! What an amazing experience to have!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 24th July 2017 at 9:25 pm

      It really was Elizabeth. Thanks!

  • Eppie 24th July 2017 at 8:55 pm

    This is awesome! What a cool thing to just come up out of nowhere… I’d be so nervous but secretly excited inside haha! Bless your girls, I bet they had so much fun xx

    • Sima Sthanakiya 24th July 2017 at 9:26 pm

      Expect the unexpected hey! I was totally out of my comfort zone, but great fun.

  • Emma @ Adventures of a London Kiwi 25th July 2017 at 6:33 am

    Sima, that is so, so brilliant!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 31st July 2017 at 8:26 am

      Thanks Emma. So much fun to film!

  • Mel 25th July 2017 at 9:36 pm

    Your daughter sounds like such an incredible young lady, I hope she gets plenty of offers in the future!
    What an awesome thing to happen for you though; it looks like such a fun advert.

  • Maggie 25th July 2017 at 11:43 pm

    I LOVE this and Mr O’T spotted you on TV the night before last 🙂 ! This is the start of big things hun….don’t forget me when you’re famous 😉 xx

    • Sima Sthanakiya 31st July 2017 at 8:25 am

      Yay! Mr O’T spotted me! There’s no missing me in the online shorts though xx

  • Rupal 13th January 2018 at 11:02 pm

    How amazing Sima. What a great experience !! X

    • Sima Sthanakiya 14th January 2018 at 4:31 pm

      It really was a case of right place, right time Rupal. Totally stepping out of my comfort zone, but so much fun.

  • Julia 14th June 2018 at 1:59 pm

    It’s so funny how things like this can happen sometimes isn’t it? It’s like if someone told you it was going to happen you’d never believe them. It’s really cool though!

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

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