Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 


The world is changing very fast.

But at least a few things will remain the same, surely.

People will remain thoroughly irrational. Politicians will remain thoroughly unbelievable. And donkeys will remain thoroughly disinterested.

And then there's Ikea.

It won't change too much, will it?

We love it for its colored balls into which we can throw children. We love it for the beautiful way it leads us around the store with a road map on the floor.

And most of all we love the meatballs.

They are so essentially Swedish that Ikea without meatballs would be like New York without its grotesque sense of self-worth. It would be like Bernie Sanders with a dark mullet.

You know, though, that technology is taking us over. You already realize that you've become a very different person since a cellphone entered the palm of your hand and refused to leave.

Which is why Ikea has already disappeared into virtual reality's actual despair.

It created a virtual reality experience for those 240 people worldwide who don't feel nauseous when they flip on one of those soulless divers' masks that bring them a new world.

Ikea was very enthusiastic about this.

"Explore and interact with an IKEA Kitchen in Virtual Reality!" it wrote. "Walk around freely, open drawers and put your vegetable peelings in the waste sorting station. You can even enjoy the visual impact of different material finishes and experience things from a child's point of view."

If there's one thing that VR is very useful for, it's to turn you into a six-year-old.

When Ikea released this beauty, there was giddy excitement. There was also consternation.

The virtual Ikea kitchen had no meatballs.

Please, I'm not inventing this. The Swedes had to slip into their virtual kitchen in the dead of night and cook some virtual meatballs.

I know this because the company made a proud announcement: "Since we published the small IKEA Kitchen VR experience the most frequent request have been; we want meatballs! Of course we listened!"

Of course they listened. This was a meatball discussion.

Ikea decided to truly push the boundaries, though. It even inserted veggie balls.

So now you must get yourself VR equipment -- no matter how silly it will make you look -- and and experience Ikea's virtual meatballs. And veggie balls, of course, if that happens to be your misguided thing.

I've inserted a video so that you can see how appetizing Ikea's virtual meatballs really are.

I don't write about this for humor's sake. Well, not exclusively.

Sometimes, the apparently smallest elements of a brand can be crucial to that brand.

I fancy that Ikea's meatballs have sold many a sofa, many a kitchen and many a shelving system with a ridiculous name.

You want evidence? Ikea sells 1 billion meatballs a year at its 360 stores in 47 countries.

Just at the moment shoppers flag, they retire to Ikea's real-life kitchen, espy and sniff the meatballs, devour them and return to the fray rejuvenated in their quest to create the perfectly inexpensive home.

Of course, one day everything might be virtual. Even us.

Until then, we'll react emotionally to our brands, just as we react emotionally to our lives.

To some these little spheres of dead cow just seem like meatballs.

To Ikea, virtual or not, those meatballs might even be more important that some of the company's board directors.