I Say “___,” You Say “___.” MattressFIRM’s Brand Killing Campaign

True or False: Mattresses double in weight every 8 years because of dust mites, dead skin, and human waste?

Answer: Yuck! Why am I answering this disgusting question? From now on, when I hear MattressFIRM, I think gross.

Brands are triggers. Dating back to the first “branding,” when the mark of the brand was seared into the hide of cattle, the “brand” has represented the reputation and even quirks of the owner. The same holds true today. When you see or hear a known brand, you immediately associate the conscious and subconscious characteristics of that brand.

So, what has MattressFIRM so firmly planted in my mind? An unresolvable disgust for the place where I sleep. I’m a little late to the ballgame (not seeing this commercial until recently), but I was appalled and disgusted at the current messaging. Have you seen it? Watch the commercial here.

I’m sure that there was a conversation in a board room that went something like this. “You know, people replace their mattresses, on average, every 12 years. If we could just get them to replace their mattresses in 8 years we would…(clicking of calculator keys because the guys doing this analysis would never use an iPhone to do math) increase our revenue by 27.4%.” Then someone in marketing was forced to turn up the heat on “Replace Every 8.” So, with this creative, they bought every time slot near a mealtime and voila, you have instant success–or excess nausea.

Now, when you say refreshing night’s sleep, I say “pounds of dead skin, dust mites and YUCK!” Yeah, sorry, I just can’t buy it–literally. Of course, I stop eating when people at the table begin talking medical procedures, so maybe I’m a little weak for this messaging. Excuse the hyperbole. 

Alternatively, consider the the Simmons Beautyrest Recharge campaign:

For sleep that fully recharges, one needs conforming back support and cool, pressure-relieving comfort. It’s more than a better night’s sleep. It’s you, fully charged.

Beautyrest Recharge

So serene, peaceful. Lovely. As a mattress buyer, I want to focus on the positive of this investment that I’m making in one-third of my time over the next decade. I want to feel like I’ve solved a problem. The experience of sleep should be a solution; it should be refreshing, recharging, cooling, pressure-relieving, and peaceful, right?

With MattressFIRM, I never solve the problem. The day it is delivered I restart the cycle of  dust mite infestation,  and absorption of dead skin and human waste.

Why do I care? I make a living as a guardian of brands. I’m so careful to protect any associations with the brand that creates a negative association—even for a short term win. I take a pretty broad view of branding, and I believe EVERYTHING makes up your brand. From your logo and design to the way you answer the phone.

Of course, I’m also also paid to create marketing campaigns to inspire action. Our brains respond to the marketer’s messaging iron:

  • Bad things happen. You’re in good hands with Allstate.
  • Batteries lose juice. The Energizer bunny keeps going…and going.
  • Good beer makes me feel bloated. Miller Lite tastes great, less filling.

Allstate could say, “the next time you get into your car, the odds are high that you will have a wreck. You need us.” Americans avoid thinking about negative, albeit inevitable, events like catastrophe, death and even funky mattresses. While fear sell may inspire immediate action, it may also damage to the  long-term reputation of the brand. Great marketers build campaigns that both inspire action and build and maintain reputation.

As a side note, my opinions about MattressFIRm here are not shared by all. My wife, for example, completely disagrees with me about my take on this advertisement. If you disagree, let me know. Also, include how old your dust-mite-infused, sweat-soaked, dead-skin-filled mattress is.


Jeremy Floyd

Jeremy Floyd is the President at FUNYL Commerce. Formerly, he was the CEO and President of Lirio, Bluegill Creative, a marketing and communications firm in Knoxville, Tennessee. In addition to managing the digital strategies, Floyd was an adjunct professor for the University of Tennessee Chattanooga MBA program teaching digital strategies and social media. Floyd blogs at jeremyfloyd.com and tweets under the name @jfloyd. Jeremy is licensed to practice law in the State of Tennessee and holds a law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from MTSU in English and Philosophy.