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IKEA create inspiring anti-bullying video, asks students to bully a plant for a month to prove the effect of negativity on growth

by Ammar Nasir

What happens when you verbally abuse and bully someone? IKEA set out to demonstrate this by subjecting plants to verbal abuse versus compliments.

The Swedish company’s UAE division, in collaboration with ad agency Memac Ogilvy Dubai, have created an inspirational feel-good video for a #SayNoToBullying campaign.


Ikea came up with a really unique idea to highlight the effect of bullying. (Image Source: YouTube/IKEA)


Ikea declared it as a social experiment. (Image source: YouTube/IKEA)

The idea was created by IKEA’s ‘Someone please do a real study of this’ department.


The experiment suggests plants can feel like us too. (Image source: YouTube/IKEA)


The plants do have feelings too. (Image source: YouTube/IKEA)

“Plants have feelings, just like people. So, what happens when you feed one plant with compliments and another with negative remarks?” the company asks.

The company declared this as a social experiment on the effect of bullying and negativity. They asked students to make audio recording loops, half saying mean and negative things and half with compliments and positive things.

The recorded audio tapes were then played for two growing plants for a time period of 30 days. Both the plants received exactly the same treatment: the same amount of water, fertilizers, and light. However, one plant was complimented and the other was exposed to bullying and verbal abuse.


The plants were given the same amount of water, light, and fertilizers. (Image source: YouTube/IKEA)

The results of the experiment were shocking. The plant that was lauded flourished and the one that was bullied whithered.


The plant that was complimented flourished beautifully. (Image source: YouTube/IKEA)


The plant that was bullied withered after 30 days. (Image source: YouTube/IKEA)

The results seem a bit unbelievable. Does the experiment suggest plants can hear us? Do they have emotions? Or was it just a marketing strategy?

David Griner, a contributor at Adweek,  reached out to the agency to confirm that the plants were actually treated – and reacted – as the company claims. He wrote:

“We heard back from a creative at Ogilvy Dubai who reaffirmed that it was a legitimate project with both plants being treated the same except for the verbal messages. She says the agency is getting “a lot of questions” about the project and admits she was “quite impressed when I saw the results.”


Studies suggest if we say nice things to plants it actually affect their growth in a positive way. (Image source: YouTube/IKEA)


Plants have feelings, just like people.  (Image source: YouTube/IKEA)

IKEA isn’t the first to conduct such an experimentation. Many studies suggest that plants can actually feel things and positive nourishment and emotional care can help them flourish and grow well.

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