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A $100,000 Consumer ‘Sabbatical’ Contest Kicks-off Year-Long Program For IKEA

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IKEA, announced the launch of The Life Improvement Project (LIP), a program designed to help inspire and empower people to improve their lives, as well as the lives of others in their community.  As part of the second year of this national program, IKEA will be hosting a Life Improvement Sabbatical Contest which offers an opportunity to win a year-long sabbatical* (worth $100,000) to improve the lives of others; a series of free, in-store Life Improvement Store Seminars which provide tips and inspiration to improve people’s lives at home; Random Acts of Life Improvement, unexpected moments when IKEA will surprise the public with tokens of appreciation to improve everyday moments in their lives; a Life Improvement Challenge, where every IKEA store will commit $10,000 to support local community initiatives; and a Soft Toys for Education Campaign to donate 1 euro to children’s education programs for every IKEA soft toy purchased during the holiday season.

The Life Improvement Project reinforces the ongoing brand platform, IKEA, the Life Improvement Store, an idea designed to communicate the company’s core vision and mission of creating a better everyday life for the many people.  Information on the program is available on www.thelifeimprovementproject.com.

“The program began last year as a way demonstrate the concept of  the Life Improvement Store but it’s become so much more,” says Christine Whitehawk, Communications Manager IKEA US,  “The positive impact that our customers and our coworkers are making in their communities is inspirational.  We’re excited to expand the Life Improvement Project even more this year and to continue being a partner for consumers in improving lives at home and beyond.”

2010 marked the inaugural year of the project and one of its core components -- the Life Improvement Sabbatical Contest.  Of nearly 2,000 entrants and more than 46,000 votes cast by the public, Kyria Henry of Round Hill, Virginia was the grand prize winner of a $100,000 prize from IKEA to pursue her passion of helping others.

“Winning the IKEA Life Improvement Sabbatical Contest has allowed us to expand our programming, breed and train more dogs, and most importantly, place more service dogs with veterans, active duty military members and their dependents,” said Kyria Henry, founder of paws4vets™ which trains and pairs service dogs with veterans needing assistance. “Words cannot express the amazing platform and opportunities this contest has given me and my project this past year.”

This year’s LIP program elements include:

  • Life Improvement Sabbatical Contest: Knowing that people have a desire to be a positive force within their community but may not have the time or resources to do so, IKEA is offering a unique contest for one person to win a year-long sabbatical* (worth $100,000) to advance a project that improves the lives of others, and share their experience with the world.  Interested entrants can submit their project proposal online from 9/13/11 through 10/17/11 at www.thelifeimprovementproject.com.  Five finalists will be chosen from submissions by a panel of judges.  The winner will be determined by public vote and announced on or around January 17, 2012. *NOTE:  The grand prize winner is not required to take a leave of absence from work.  If the grand prize winner chooses to take leave from employment to work on their project, they can utilize a portion of the prize toward living expenses. 
  • Life Improvement Store Seminars: IKEA will host a series of 48 free seminars at store locations across the country to provide customers with the tools, inspiration and product suggestions to help people improve their lives at home.  These seminars will be hosted by experts from Family Circle, AOL, Cooking Light, This Old House, and more.  In addition, seminars will be offered in select stores by life coach experts provided by O, The Oprah Magazine.  The seminars will kick-off in September 2011 and extend through July 2012.  Dates, locations, and descriptions for individual seminars will be posted on the program microsite.
  • Random Acts of Life Improvement: New for year two of the LIP, Random Acts of Life Improvement will include three unexpected activities in the fall and spring, where IKEA will directly engage consumers outside of the store to surprise them with free tokens of appreciation to help improve their day.  The Random Acts will take place in every market with IKEA stores.  The public can follow their closest IKEA store’s Twitter handle to get clues about when and where the Random Acts will take place.
  • Life Improvement Challenge: To help IKEA coworkers carry out the vision of creating a better everyday life for the many, IKEA is providing $10,000 to one team in each of its 38 stores ($380,000 total) to support a local community project.  Shoppers can participate in-store by texting votes from October 14 through October 28 for their favorite proposals.  Winning projects will be announced on November 11.
  • Soft Toys for Education Campaign: Improving the lives of the many children is core to IKEA values. And the IKEA Soft Toys for Education Campaign, running from November 1 through December 24, clearly supports this commitment.  During this annual program, IKEA donates 1 euro (approximately $1.35) from the sale of every soft toy, children’s book and finger puppet to partners Save the Children and UNICEF.  The money is used to support children’s educational programs in developing countries.  To date, this program has donated $47.5 Million, helping approximately 8 million children in nearly 40 countries.  Soft toys will be on sale at all IKEA stores and on the IKEA website (IKEA-USA.com).

For more details on the Life Improvement Project, visit www.thelifeimprovementproject.com.

ABOUT IKEA: IKEA strives to be ‘The Life Improvement Store,’ and since its 1943 founding in Sweden, has offered home furnishings of good design and function, at low prices so the majority of people can afford them. There are currently more than 320 IKEA stores in 38 countries, including 38 in the U.S. IKEA, the world’s leading home furnishings company, incorporates sustainable efforts into day-to-day business and supports initiatives that benefit children and the environment. For more information, go to www.IKEA-USA.com.

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