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Case Study: The Room for Umbra

The Room 1997

What is the Secret of the Room? It gives people insight into themselves.

Challenge: Create a personal bond between Umbra and its customers

Umbra produces innovative and functional products for the home focusing on intelligent design and value. These include clocks, picture frames, garbage cans, window treatments, and bathroom accessories. Their products are sold around the world with the bulk of their sales in the United States. However, they are reliant on hundreds of retail partners. And it’s a cluttered retail environment. The challenge is to create a personal bond between Umbra and its customers so that they will be dedicated enough to search out and find the Umbra products they really want. Or even buy them online.

Solution: The Room

“The Room” is an interactive personality quiz which we created in 1997, and upgraded in 2003. Visitors are asked to choose the perfect products for their ideal room. They can choose a window, some pictures, a clock, even a garbage can. Once they have chosen everything, the secret of the Room is revealed. Each product choice symbolizes different part of their personalities. For example, the pictures symbolize their friends; the garbage can represents their problems; and the clock represents their future. Each product choice is accompanied by an “analysis” which is written in a tongue-in-cheek manner with fun pop culture references. The “analysis” is clearly entertainment, but if, and when, it hits the reader’s touch-stones, it can create a personal bond between the reader and the product.

Results: “A big spike with our on-line sales”

We first contracted James Gang to produce the Umbra website in 1997. The website was well received but the biggest surprise was the excitement caused by a product/personality game they created called The Room. Without any special effort, we found out our website was voted one of the most popular sites of that time. Recently, we asked The James Gang to renovate The Room. Since that was done, our website has again become more popular and it coincided with a big spike with our on-line sales.”

Les Mandelbaum, President, Umbra Ltd.


Hundreds of thousands of people have visited The Room since its launch. It has won numerous Canadian and international design awards. It has been lauded by the Canadian and international press and distinguished as Yahoo Site of the Day, USA Today Hot Site, AOL Favourite Pick, and linked to thousands of individuals around the world. Amazingly all this publicity has been generated by word-of-mouth, friends telling friends about the positive experience they have had with Umbra products. And that has helped Umbra’s online marketing and sales to be very effective.

Visitors have left thousands and thousands of positive comments on the Room Guestbook. Here are just a few:

Brilliant analysis. I'm blushing that you recognize my worth as a person.
Rick M. – Aug 3, 1999

That is a really great test I enjoyed it immensely. It made me think about what I want from life and what I should expect. Thank you.
Sheena Marie, West Hills, CA USA – Oct 9, 1999

I love this site! It really helped me analyze everything about myself. It tells me almost exactly what I feel, who I am and what I want... I love this!!!
Lariz Sophia Reyes, Manila, Philippines – Aug 5, 2003

Great “room” test. Described me 100%! Shocked!
Maria, Elefsina, Greece - Jan 5, 2004

Reviews and Press


Visit: Archive of the original Room from 1997.

Visit: The Renovated Room for 2003.

Room 2003
The Room 2003: Renovated by the James Gang.


“The biggest surprise was the excitement caused by a product/personality game they created called The Room... Voted one of the most popular sites of that time.”

Les Mandelbaum, Umbra