Ikea will never cease to amaze us. Not for their furniture, curiously displayed in their boxes. Nor for their ads, which usually give a bell. Following this trend, the Swedish company has just taken another step in its race for originality. And he has done it through a formula that has left our mouths open.
You just entered a pregnancy test in a paper ad. How do you read it? The page, which appears in a magazine, asks women to pee in a specific space to find out whether or not they have a discount on a cradle model that Ikea sells in their stores.
The announcement appeared last week in the Swedish magazine Amelia. So the media did not take long to echo such a popular advertising strategy. Within the publication, and specifically on the page of the announcement, it included a kind of pregnancy test such as we can buy at any pharmacy without a prescription.
However, this same technology could help diagnose some heart abnormalities. Developing it has not been easy.
Pregnancy test in an ad
It is not the first time that IKEA offers discounts on cribs to pregnant women.
It all started a year ago when an advertising agency contacted Jonas Hansson, product manager of Mercene Labs (Stockholm). I wanted to ask him if he could design a slightly curious ad for the furniture factory.
They wanted an ad in a magazine that asked pregnant women to get a urine test on the page itself. In this way, they would know if they can get the discount for a crib. And of course, of course, discover if they are pregnant.
Hansson did not believe it. But the agency, which is Åkestam Holst, said it entirely seriously. As you may have guessed, Mercene Labs is a company that manufactures products with different materials. And this was Hansson’s challenge: to get the test to work and not to spill the pee all over the page.
The technology behind this original pregnancy test
The announcement, or rather the test, works in the following way. The pregnant woman urinates in the ad (just as you would if you did a test at home). Next, the pee is dissolved in red ink made with gold nanoparticles. These include antibodies that adhere to human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), the hormone found in the urine of pregnant women.
When the paper is thoroughly soaked, the red ink adheres to the page of the magazine. And it reveals the price with the discount in just two minutes.
Luckily, it will not be necessary for women to take their pregnancy test to the Ikea store to get the discount. It’s just a reminder that with the Ikea Family card, the cradle is available at practically half the price.
For the ad, you could not use the classic pregnancy strips that you can buy at the pharmacy. The ad had to be a hundred times bigger than those little strips. When testing with similar materials, it happened that for the text to appear, one had to wait almost an hour. And even then, it was complicated to read.
That’s why they tried different types of materials. In the end, what the Mercene Labs team did was to create a combination of different layers. Most importantly, a paper with large pores so that urine can move quickly through the page, with a mixture of antibodies that interact with the pregnancy hormone. Also included are two layers of a thin, flexible substance, which prevents urine from spilling over the entire page and destroying it.
That has resulted in a seemingly ordinary magazine page. But with a surprise that can change the lives of those who read it. And not for the discount, of course.
Now Hansson is also working on a similar system, but for medical use, which serves to diagnose certain heart diseases. Plasma biomarkers detected in a band-aid like these could quickly determine if someone has a heart attack. Perhaps from the ambulance itself, it would be much more likely to administer the appropriate treatment faster. And save their lives.