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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
I found myself in some very funny scenarios with my IKEA family which will all be revealed in the digital campaign.
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…
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!
Don’t even get off the phone when filming a commercial!