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Campaign Review: the battle of the mattress brands

This week, Campaign Edge's executive creative director, Dee Madigan, and Special Australia's senior strategy director, Abbie Dubin-Rhodin, judge the very different campaign strategies mattress brands Forty Winks and Ecosa have recently taken.

In Campaign Review, Mumbrella invites industry creatives and strategists to offer their views on recent ad campaigns.

Brand: Forty Winks

Campaign: ‘The Unslept’

Agency: Akcelo

The verdict: It’s a funny, relatable and engaging advertisement.

Dee Madigan, executive creative director at Campaign Edge, gave it a 9/10, and said:

One of the good things about the increase in online mattress companies is that Forty Winks has had to stop doing crappy retail ads, or ‘brand’ ads with no idea and a voiceover that simply restates the brief (check out this doozy).

And yes, I’ve seen zombies before but idc [I don’t care]. As well as excellent production values, this has an actual idea that is fun and funny and based on a relevant problem/solution insight. It also has strong name branding throughout, slips in some product information and positions Forty Winks staff as sleep experts.

This ad actually works hard on a lot of levels but feels effortless and engaging. The idea breaks down easily into outdoor, share graphics and shorter videos. And because we’re hardwired to notice negative stuff so this will get people’s attention.

Very nice work.

Abbie Dubin-Rhodin, senior strategy director at Special Australia, gave it a 9/10, and said: 

Hello, it’s me. I’m the Unslept. I can’t really put the blame on my mattress since it’s very clearly my 9 month old baby’s fault, but you really start to understand why the CIA uses sleep deprivation as a torture technique after a few bad nights’ rest.

Following an absolute explosion of DTC mattress brands in the US, the sleep tech revolution began in earnest in Australia in the last 10 years, firmly putting established mattress players on their heels. And as someone that’s had to buy a few mattresses the last 7 years, the ‘traditional guys’ like Forty Winks haven’t done a great job at keeping up.

This campaign does a good job in swinging the pendulum back in their favour. Where brick and mortar mattress retailers are usually positioned as the old school, out-of-step with consumer needs brands to more culturally clued-in upstarts, The Unslept represents a fantastic understanding of the variety of ways our weird sleep issues manifest and the fact that they–sometimes feels like literally–turn us into zombies.

I thought the creative touches borrowed from classic horror and Zombie movies were inspired. The Romero-esque Unslept figures offer great opportunities for viewers to self-identify with your ‘Unslept’ archetype, building further relevance in cutdowns. And the plucky band of post-apocalyptic (sleep apocalypse?) leaders that we inherently know to turn to for wisdom, guidance, and ideally a good night’s sleep sets up Forty Winks really cleverly as the hero.

Lastly, I realise how tough it can be to get a mattress ad across the line without a price point. But while everyone has a budget, once you realise you are one of the #Unslept (and it’s your mattress, not your baby’s fault), the budget may feel a bit stretchier. Exploring how this affords the brand a bit of price elasticity is a good call.

I love this campaign. Mattresses are a hard category to play in. The tropes are entrenched, it can be hyper functional, and people aren’t often in the market for one, so the pull to just do what you know has worked must be strong. But after years of buying DTC mattresses online because I’m a millennial and am easily distracted by a soothing pink background and sans serif font, I would actually consider going into a mattress store as long as the Forty Winks bedMatch team is there to help me pick it out.

Brand: Ecosa

Campaign: ‘Live Life Well Slept’

Agency: Bullfrog

The verdict: It’s always fun to see a musical advertisement, but this one could be better.

Dee gave it a 6.5/10, and said:

It is a much harder brief to focus on the positive side of sleep in a way that sells your brand and doesn’t just do a category job. I like the idea that if you have a better sleep you can create a better world and I think this is a very nice spot but it could be better. Direction and music are great.

However, whilst it can be tricky to convince the client not to put the product in the first shot, showing your product isn’t necessarily effective branding. In fact, it can have the opposite effect. In this case it flags to the viewer that this is an ad – and there is nothing funny enough in the first 15 seconds to keep people watching (as opposed to the Zombies in the other ad).

The choreography and jokes in the last half are much better- and they are used in the 30 second ad which is much better than the 60 second. (And note to agencies – stop sending 60 second spots to the trade media when you’re only ever actually running 30s or shorter). It is also a challenge making a musical idea work in outdoor or static, and unfortunately the outdoor is super bland.

The 30 sec would have got 7/10 but the 60 sec gets 6/10.

Abbie gave it a 5/10, and said:

See above 9 month old baby detail–who, to his credit, is a pretty great sleeper post-sleep training–but I definitely haven’t entered a life well slept just yet. I’ve heard it’s nice though! The lady in this ad certainly seems cheerful!

In my imagination, this is the after version of The Unslept. All our poor Unslept have finally found a good mattress and they’ve woken up in a new, musical movie world where they can Live Life Well Slept.

Fun fact about me–I love a musical. The Hamilton soundtrack was my top 5 played albums for 4 years in a row on Spotify (this is a brag). I Iove the theatricality, the exaggeration, the jazz hands. The thing with musicals though, is that the cheer and the musicality stands up because there’s still drama. There’s tension. There’s Alexander Hamilton duelling.

So while I’m immediately drawn to anything musical shaped and am still humming ‘Kevin’s a creeeep’, I found myself missing the tension that gets us to Live Life Well Slept.

Ecosa is setting themselves up to have solved a really big problem–the fact that we’re genuinely worse versions of ourselves when we’ve not slept well. Our patience is low, we’re jerks to our loved ones, and we definitely don’t respond well when we get a ticket.

But mattresses are an expensive, relatively rational purchase, and even if we get shit sleep, we underestimate just how bad it actually is until it’s laid out for us–or we’re laid up in the physio because of it. When we wake automatically in a world where the problem never existed, the brand doesn’t get an opportunity to get to be the hero, the one that actually brought us from our Unslept selves to our self-actualised well slept ones.

There’s a line at the end that I really like–the dream life’s getting closer, sleeping on Ecosa–because I think it starts to seed that tension. We don’t live in our dream world-admittedly for many many reasons beyond bad mattresses. But if we contextualise the impact of the bad on your life today, the benefit of Ecosa and what its well slept world can deliver you tomorrow feels a lot more compelling.

As told to Lauren McNamara.

If you are a senior creative or strategist who would like to take part in a future Campaign Review, please email Lauren at lmcnamara@mumbrella.com.au.

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