Gatesman+Dave's 'Ikea or Death?' name game nearly crashes marketing site


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A South Side marketing agency sends a senior copywriter and an associate creative director to the Ikea store in Robinson to get some new furniture for a meeting room ...

They did get the furniture. But Gatesman+Dave co-workers Sam Panico -- a big metal band fan -- and Jeff Barton also had a lot of fun joking about how the Swedish retailer's names for its bright and modern merchandise closely resembled the names of death metal bands.

So, with encouragement from others at the office, they put together an online game that tests players' ability to guess whether a name identifies Swedish merchandise or a metal band: "Ikea or Death."

Dåtid? Nortt? Samsplet? Vittsjö? Einherjer?

It's a challenge.

The game went online at ikeaordeath.com Wednesday. By Friday, the site had picked up more than 300,000 Facebook likes and Gatesman senior multimedia programmer Mike Wellman was working crazy hours to keep it from crashing under the load of new visitors.

Mr. Panico had leaked the project to friends using social media site reddit to talk about metal bands. "We started to get thousands of hits in the first couple of hours," he said. By the end of the day Wednesday, the game had 10,000 likes. The next morning it was up to 60,000, spurred on by blog mentions.

A mention on technology blog Gizmodo almost instantly bumped the load up to 15,000 people simultaneously taking the 2.5-minute quiz. "We weren't expecting the mass influx," said Mr. Barton.

They estimate most quiz takers are getting between 10 and 12 out of 20 right, with both Ikea furniture shoppers and metal fans bringing their own particular expertise to the task.

The team has heard that an Ikea store in Minneapolis had its employees take the quiz and most only scored a 19 out of 20 because the game designers included one Ikea item that's brand new to the stores.

"This is hysterical. I haven't laughed this hard in awhile," wrote Kathleen Auterio, on the Gatesman Facebook page. "Here I thought I knew my Norwegian Black Metal."

There isn't a particular marketing strategy behind the game. Gatesman+Dave doesn't work for Ikea or any metal bands.

Mr. Panico is thrilled at getting a mention on some metal band sites, even if it's for a game and not for the bands that he's been in.

Dave Kwasnick, creative director at Gatesman, said the agency is embracing its pop culture moment, while it uses the exercise to learn more about what kind of flash points trigger viral reactions on the Internet. In this case, they figure the fact that Ikea sells furniture across the globe as one thing that makes the game appealing to so many people.

The Gatesman name gets play on the game site, so the Pittsburgh agency is getting exposure in places that it may never get assignments. Those who finish the quiz get a congratulatory note like the one that said, "Seriously, you scare children and their parents alike, all while wowing them with your design sense."

It continues with a low-key pitch to visit the agency site. "Until the light takes us, your friends at Gatesman+Dave."

The team doesn't expect the game to be the next "Candy Crush Saga" or "Angry Birds," but they do plan an update to give people who know their metal and their furniture some more challenges to laugh about.

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Teresa F. Lindeman: tlindeman@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2018. First Published October 11, 2013 8:00 PM


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