Big ups to IKEA for using the significant foot traffic of one of its biggest stores to help drive home the reality of life in war-torn Syria.

The Swedish retailer recently built a 25 square-metre replica of a real Syrian family’s home – almost totally bare save for some rugs and meager furnishings – inside IKEA Slependen, its Norway flagship.

The aim? To give customers a taste of what life’s like for Rana, a mum of four young kids who lives in a tiny two-bedroom apartment in war-torn Damascus.

Their suburb of Jaramana is considered safer than many other neighboring areas but families like Rana’s often live in bombed-out or crumbling buildings with little access to food, medicine, clean water and warm clothes during cold winter months.

“When we had to flee to this area to find safety, we did not have enough money to rent a better place. We have no money to buy mattresses and blankets, or clothes for the children,” Rana told the Red Cross, with whom IKEA collaborated to replicate the apartment in a joint fundraising venture.

The plastic price tags you usually find dangling off $2 planters were used to tell the family’s story, as well as serving as donation slips for Red Cross.

POL, the creative agency who helped execute the activation, were determined the give shoppers the most authentic experience possible – and that meant building the house from pure concrete on-site.

“It would have been easier to just put up wallpaper, but it wouldn’t have felt the same,” art director Snorre Martinsen told AdWeek. “People who had fled war themselves have told us, ‘This is how it feels.’ ‘I remember this.'”

The installation was open to the public for two weeks in October, and raised more than 22 million euros (or AU$31.5 million) for Red Cross’ efforts in Syria – an amazing result.

Check out the campaign video, and kids’ reactions as they walk through the apartment with their parents.

If you want to do your bit, you can donate to Red Cross Australia’s Syrian appeal HERE

Source: AdWeek.

Photo: Supplied.