Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

The first-ever retailer to make TIME a CURRENCY: Know more about this campaign here! [Thursdays: Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing]

June 29, 2023

Miles Everson’s Business Builder Daily speaks to the heart of what great marketers, business leaders, and other professionals need to succeed in advertising, communications, managing their investments, career strategy, and more. 

A Note from Miles Everson:

Are you familiar with guerrilla marketing? 

For those of you who aren’t, guerrilla marketing is an unconventional marketing strategy. Campaigns of this type work most of the time because they’re fun, easy to appreciate and execute, and sometimes, inexpensive. 

I personally like reading articles featuring these kinds of campaigns. They remind me that advertising a brand or a new offering doesn’t always have to be too formal, traditional, or pricey. 

In today’s article, allow us to share with you an example of a clever guerrilla marketing campaign. 

Keep reading to know how this multinational conglomerate incentivized its customers in Dubai in 2020. 

Miles Everson
CEO, MBO Partners
Chairman of the Advisory Board, The I Institute

Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing 

Have you heard about or read the phrase, “Time is money?” 

Some people use this saying to imply a person’s time is as valuable as monetary wealth. 

Trivia: “Time is money” is an aphorism that originated in “Advice to a Young Tradesman,” Benjamin Franklin’s essay that was included in George Fisher’s 1748 book, “The American Instructor: or, Young Man’s Best Companion.” 

In this essay, Franklin wrote that money is usually considered to be one of the most important aspects of life. However, many tend to ignore another important parameter that adds value to life: TIME

Think about this: You need to spend time to fulfill your aspirations in life, such as traveling, studying, applying for your dream job, etc. If you start to adopt the mindset that wasting time is like wasting money, you will realize the enormous value you can get from this parameter. 

Did you know that in 2020, one multinational conglomerate took this phrase quite LITERALLY to incentivize its customers in Dubai and boost customer loyalty? 

That company is… 


Photo from IKEA

IKEA is a multinational conglomerate that designs and sells ready-to-assemble furniture, kitchen appliances, decorations, home accessories, and other products. Established in 1943, the company has been the world’s largest furniture retailer since 2008. 

The brand is primarily known for its modernist designs on various appliances and furniture, and its interior design work is often associated with simplicity and minimalism. 

IKEA is also known for its attention to cost control, operational details, and consistent product development, all of which enable the brand to lower its prices for an average of 2% to 3%. 

Incentivizing People’s Travel Time to IKEA 

IKEA stores are usually located on the outskirts of cities… and in Dubai, the three IKEA branches there are placed far away from the city center. 

This makes sense given how BIG the stores are. The problem? 

In 2020, IKEA’s stores in Dubai experienced a decrease in footfall because of: 

  • People getting busier by the day
  • Increasing fuel prices and overall inflation
  • The rise of e-commerce

So, to encourage customers to go to the physical stores in that same year, IKEA partnered with advertising agency Memac Ogilvy Dubai to launch a guerrilla marketing campaign in February 2020. It was also timed with the opening of a new branch in Jebel Ali. 

The name of the campaign? 

“Buy With Your Time!” 

The campaign was created to help shoppers who live on the edges of towns and spend lots of time traveling to go to IKEA stores. With “Buy With Your Time,” these customers were allowed to essentially pay for goods using their time. 

How did the campaign play out? 

  1. Updating the price tags of the products in IKEA Dubai’s stores. All product tags were updated to include a “time price.” This enabled shoppers to identify whether or not they could buy a particular item with their time. 

For example: A Billy bookcase could be bought for a travel time of 1 hour and 55 minutes, a Hattefjäll chair for 9 hours and 25 minutes, a veggie hotdog for 5 minutes, a blue IKEA plastic bag for 2 minutes, and so on. 

The “time prices” were based on the average salary in Dubai. 

  1. Upon checking out. Customers collected their “time currency” by showing their Google Maps timeline to IKEA employees at the checkout counters to indicate how much time they spent traveling to the store. The longer they had to travel, the higher the value of their time. 

Customers were given the option to save their “time currency” credits for their next visit. Some chose to do so to collect more time while others used their credits immediately to purchase items and save on cash. 

The “Buy With Your Time” campaign lasted from February 2020 to March 2020. 

Was IKEA’s “Buy With Your Time” campaign effective? 

Even before the campaign, IKEA is already known for its sheer, brilliant, and affordable home solutions. When the company launched “Buy With Your Time,” it once again took the retail world—yes, not only Dubai but also the rest of the world—by storm as the first retailer to use time as a mode of exchange. 

Way to go, IKEA! 

Here are the results of the guerrilla marketing campaign: 

  • The foot traffic in IKEA’s Dubai stores increased by 32% throughout the campaign. 
  • The YouTube video about the campaign garnered a total of 54,000 views, and thousands of Twitter and Instagram posts from people all over the world were uploaded online. 
  • The campaign generated a HUGE buzz in the global retail industry. 
  • IKEA received a total of USD 14 million worth of free media for its “Buy With Your Time” campaign. 

Congratulations, IKEA and Memac Ogilvy Dubai! These results show the campaign truly captured shoppers in Dubai and motivated them to go to the physical stores even for long hours just to experience the incentivization strategy. 



There were two factors that helped make IKEA’s “Buy With Your Time” a genius campaign: 

  • It addressed a customer pain point. Visiting IKEA’s Dubai stores was always a planned event. It wasn’t a place where people went to simply grab a bite or purchase a small item. The travel time itself was enough to deter consumers looking to buy one or two products. 

That changed when the “Buy With Your Time” campaign was launched. Regardless of how far the stores were, consumers made the trip and ended up buying more than they originally planned. 

  • It gave customers another reason to visit the store. With the campaign, IKEA piqued customers’ curiosity about how their time was converted into currency. This then gave them a reason to visit the branch to actually understand the mechanism. 

As an IKEA spokesperson said: 

“Before the birth of this campaign, we realized two things: Time is precious today, and many loyal IKEA customers spend a significant chunk of it visiting our locations, which are sometimes away from the city center. We think it’s only right to reward our customers’ efforts by repaying them for the time spent reaching us. It’s our way of helping the Dubai community make the most out of every minute.” 

Get inspired by today’s guerrilla marketing feature! 

Start thinking about a business-friendly decision that puts your customers’ needs first, too! Like IKEA, there’s nothing for you to lose in this strategy. In fact, this would even help you win your target market’s loyalty and compel them to make repeat purchases from your brand. 

Stay tuned for next week’s “Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing!” 

(This article is from The Business Builder Daily, a newsletter by The I Institute in collaboration with MBO Partners.) 

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Thursdays: Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing”

Jay Conrad Levinson (1984) said that Guerrilla Marketing “works because it’s simple to appreciate, easy to execute, and inexpensive.”

Guerrilla Marketing is unconventional.

Looking beyond the traditional ways of advertising, marketers, and advertisers need to spice things up in order for their brand to have campaigns that not only make an impact but also stick to their target market’s mind.

Guerrilla Marketing usually aims to have direct contact with consumers.

This type of direct contact should spark an emotional reaction that leads to consumers effectively remembering the brand.

It’s about making a big impression and making that impression last a long time (if not forever).

Guerrilla Marketing can be inexpensive.

The effect of this is being able to create a buzz around the brand, and the strategy used to market it. Almost everything is passed around through word-of-mouth.

Word-of-mouth is one of the greatest outcomes and it usually doesn’t cost anything.

This is every business’ or brand’s dream!

Every Thursday, we publish tips, examples, and other useful content on unconventional ways of marketing and promotion.

Learn more about how to grab your target market’s attention and make an amazing first and lasting impression without having to spend a lot of money.

Businesses don’t really need to spend much for a guerrilla campaign. You do not need a big budget to be successful. You just need creativity and a good imagination.

Hope you’ve found this week’s guerrilla marketing insight interesting and helpful.

Stay tuned for next Thursday’s Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing!


Kyle Yu 
Head of Marketing 
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities 
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