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A Public Service Announcement: Sex is Relevant to the Mattress Industry

If I told you there’s a way to make your product more emotionally appealing, which ultimately makes it easier to sell, would you want to know more? And what if I told youSex and Sleep there’s a simple way to make a mattress more interesting and compelling to the consumer, more fun to shop for, and overall simply more relevant? Do you want to know that bit of information? It sounds like a stupid question, but I had to ask because this opportunity is right under our noses, and for some reason most of us in the bedding industry continue to ignore it and I am not sure why. So here it is: the key to the kingdom is sex.

Like it or not, sex is the reason we’re on planet Earth. It’s a natural thing. And it’s tied directly to the products we sell. We’re the one industry most qualified to talk about intimacy, yet we treat the topic like it’s taboo. Missed opportunity? You bet. But I believe it’s more than that. I believe it is a public service announcement that needs to be made.

I realize that by bringing this up…again…I run the risk of being tagged as the guy that always talks about sex, which I am okay with if it improves our industry and ultimately sells more beds. In past blogs, I have talked about sex and even gave a speech about it at the Furniture Today Bedding Conference in 2007 (see video below). I bring it up because sex is a very important, emotional thing. People love to have sex. Psychologists tell us sex is vital to a healthy marriage, and it makes people very happy. And by the way, sex happens ON the products we manufacture and sell.

You have companies using sex to sell hamburgers, shampoo, blue jeans, and websites, when there is virtually no direct connection to sex. Why? Because it works. However, those products don’t have the luxury of being closely connected to sex, like a mattress. In his book “Ogilvy on Advertising” famous ad man David Ogilvy wrote, “The first advertisement I ever produced showed a naked woman. It was a mistake, not because it was sexy, but because it was irrelevant to the product – a cooking stove. The test is relevance.” Mattresses are not only directly involved in the act, but they can significantly impact the quality of the experience. Why in the world would we not talk about that?!?

So what is keeping us from talking to consumers about sex? Here are a few of my theories:

  • We are a conservative industry.
  • We don’t want to upset the consumer.
  • We can’t figure out a creative way to address the subject.
  • We don’t think it will help anything.
  • We are very happy with our growth and don’t need the additional help to drive business.
  • We have seen others try it and fail.

On that last note, maybe some have tried and failed, but I would challenge the idea. Sealy came out with their “Afterglow” commercials during the Superbowl in the New York market, and from what they told me, this resulted in a significant amount of website traffic. We didn’t see a lot of the “Afterglow” commercials airing on television, but I think that had more to do with funding than the spot not being good enough. You can say this was a bad approach and goes too far, but this doesn’t have to be the way we talk about intimacy either.

Next week, I am going to make a case for connecting sex more directly to mattresses and give you specifics on how I think we can make it work. Here is a hint: companies that serve the consumer, and educate them on issues that are relevant to their quality of life, win big at the cash register. Come back and join me in the discussion!

Have you ever had sex on a mattress? If a product you used every day could make your sexual experience better, would you want to know details? Stay tuned.

Speaking at the Furniture Today Bedding Conference (2007)

7 thoughts on “A Public Service Announcement: Sex is Relevant to the Mattress Industry

  1. Well this is interesting. This is the first time I’ve seen anyone making this correlation and nobody brings this up while buying a mattress.

    1. That is the problem Saurabh, people DO bring this up when buying a mattress. We as an industry just choose to ignore it. Thanks for the comment!

      MQ

  2. This is an interesting question, and one I’m sure has surfaced in many an ad agency brainstorm session.

    As a creative director, I can imagine several arguments that might result in “sex” messaging being left on the table during campaign development. For example, sex may be too ancillary to the unique selling proposition of the product. If the USP is, say, orthopedic support, essential messaging usually tends to support that position, even in the emotional rationale (my life is better because my rest is better).

    That being said, however, I could see even a therapeutic product position using sex, especially if it’s an established brand and there’s no need to instill the core benefit in the consumer’s mind. If I’m Sealy Posturepedic, for example, and I need to roll out a new line extension, I could position it as “the couple’s sleep system” and create a campaign with slogans like, “Great sleep is sexy”, which could still extol the virtues of proper rest (energy level, fresher look), but leverage an executional style that includes romantic couple shots, nighttime color palette, soft type approach, suggested “afterglow” scenarios, etc.

    Perhaps a brand could also use sex in a promotional sense, which would allow them to leverage it without any danger of dilution (or blowback from the brand manager). Tying into the next big romantic comedy, for example, and creating brand engagement around it, with both online and traditional point-of-sale elements might be a good tactic.

    As I said, it’s a great question. And who knows, it could be the next famous campaign for the mattress brand that cracks the code on selling with sex.

    1. Great stuff Marvin, thanks for the comment. I completely agree with your thought that someone has to crack the code and it hasn’t been done yet. It needs to be creative and relevant, not crossing a line. I think that this is without a doubt a “WHEN IT HAPPENS” instead of a “IF IT HAPPENS” thing. I can’t wait to see someone step up and deliver as I think there is a lot to gain from doing this right.

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