Tontine date stamped pillows: While you were sleeping, a brand category was being redefined

Fair to say, I wouldn’t have predicted that the most interesting marketing strategy I’ve come across this week would be for pillows.  

But Happy Soldiers’ work for Tontine was beginning to get my attention even before a pillow turned up in the office yesterday.

That morning, the SMH featured a cover wrap plugging the pillow.

I’d also seen it on TV the night before. Last night, it made Today Tonight with a five minute segment.

That piece nicely sums up an overarching marketing strategy which has incorporated PR, media and advertising. It’s a pretty good example of agencies working together – as well as Happy Soldiers doing the ads and channel strategy, Mediacom did the buying and Zarr Marketing drove the PR.

tontine pillowThe central idea – that pillows are full of bugs – isn’t completely new, but the idea of putting a “best by” date on pillows potentially redefines the category. It also demonstrates that it’s possible for agencies to do interesting work in what would seem like a massively dull category.

But even more interesting is the media strategy – throwing pretty much the entire media budget – and I reckon that’s about $5m – into a five day burst of activity. As well as TV and press, it’s also included drivetime radio reads and online site takeovers.

But there’s more than that – the media plan has been heavily time based – first thing in the morning, and last thing at night when people’s heads are close to those pillows.

Again, not a completely new thing.

But there’s more again, with ad voiceovers appropriate to the genre of show they’ve aired in:

CSI: ‘While you’re watching a show about crime scenes you should know there’s a real one going on in your bedroom – inside your pillow – right now. You see over time your pillow grows an entire eco-system…”

Two and a Half Men, How I Met Your Mother and other comedies: “So, you like watching shows that make you laugh. Well here’s something that’s no laughing matter. Over time your pillow grows an entire…”

A Current Affair: “So you like to watch programs that investigates the truth. Well here’s a truth that may shock you. Over time your pillow grows an entire…”

Late night: “Tonight you’ll all go to bed and lay your head on that pillow you’ve loved for so long. But over time your pillow grows a whole ecosystem…”

Mornings: “Good morning… hope you had a nice sleep on your favourite pillow and you didn’t wake up the whole ecosystem…”

Of course, a lot of this messaging potentially boosts the whole category rather than just Tontine. That’s where the best by date comes in. It’s a crucial point of difference. It’s also backed by point of sale activity.

And the proof? As a punter, they’ve convinced me. I’m buying new pillows. Mind you, I wouldn’t be surprised if Tontine has already sold out.

Tim Burrowes


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