Now the Johnsons, a.k.a. any average American family, can enter a just launched contest from Ikea: The Life Improvement Project, which offers one winner a year-long sabbatical (valued at $100,000) to focus on a project that improves the lives of others.
Through November 8th, Ikea US is accepting essay submissions of up to 2,000 words describing your idea along with a brief budget of how the money would be used – and why you are the best person to win. Five finalists will be chosen by a panel of judges and announced on December 13. The winner will be chosen by public vote and announced on January 31, 2011.
The world's largest furniture retailer is spreading the wealth and staying true to the origins of the brand with the initiative, which (in true Ikea fashion) requires some assembly and sweat equity at home by the customer.
The Grand Prize of $100,000 cash must be used toward the winning project idea submitted. The winner also will receive a 3-day trip to a spa resort in Phoenix, AZ, a one-hour life coaching session with Dr. Martha Beck and three follow-up phone sessions.
The winner must actively participate in the project for 9-12 months, and if a sabbatical from their current work is required, $50,000 of the grand prize can be used for living expenses.
In a two-step judging process, criteria for 10 semi-finalists include: passion and desire to help others (35%), strength and feasibility of project (35%), and originality (30%).
Each of those 10 will have a 20-minute phone interview to whittle the field to 5 based on: passion and enthusiasm (40%), sincerity (30%), and communication skills (30%). The grand-prize winner will be chosen by public vote.
Starting in October, free Life Improvement Store Seminars program will be hosted in stores across America to promote the idea of home + life improvement, hosted by experts from publications including Family Circle, Cooking Light, and This Old House. A related corporate employee engagement program, the Life Improvement Co-Worker Challenge, gives Ikea employees the chance to win $10,000 to support a local initiative of their choosing.
It's all in keeping with the retailer's brand positioning as "The Life Improvement Store - we're committed to helping you create a better everyday life at home."
Designed by you…made possible by Ikea. One more model of a brand funding consumer-generated ideas to make life better.