To sleep, perchance to dream: Spring's new theme for sheets

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When trendy fashion designers began crowding the home furnishings market, traditional bed and bath product makers lost sales. This month, Springmaid and Wamsutta brands respond with an aggressive advertising rally, following several years of little brand spending.

First month spending alone will be higher than the outlay on both brands for all of 1999. Total annual spending on the two campaigns by parent Spring Industries is estimated at $10 million to $15 million.

"This company has a history of brand building, but this year's effort is a renewed effort," said Leslie Gillock, VP-brand management on Springmaid. "This is the most aggressive level of ad spending within any one annual plan. . . . While there has been an influx of new competitors in the category, there is really an opportunity for a brand presence that brings a general, high-level quality as opposed to a specific designer look."

The Wamsutta campaign "Sleep" debuted in March issues of magazines; Springmaid's "Dream" work launches in April magazines. Ogilvy & Mather, New York, handles both the Springmaid and Wamsutta brands.

SLEEP AS UNIVERSAL UNITER

Not only is the spending aggressive, but so is the work. The six initial Wamsutta ads feature beautifully shot photos of sleeping people with quippy copy that ends with the single word "sleep." The idea is sleep as the universal uniter -- no matter who you are, what you do or what you think about, everyone sleeps.

One ad shows an older African-American couple snuggled in bed with the copy, "Quarrel, merlot, sex, sleep." That ad has already drawn a small number of complaints over the "sex" inclusion.

"We wanted to show that the sheets are really luxurious with an almost lifestyle feel," said Rojelio Cabral, Ogilvy art director on Wamsutta. "We're trying to make Wamsutta to be not your mother's brand. . . . Most other ads just show the product without people."

The Springmaid ads focus on dreams with four different ads focusing on one person wrapped in a Springmaid towel or sheet as they proclaim their dreams.

`OPTIMISTIC' SPRINGMAID

Debra Fried, Ogilvy senior copywriter, said, "We wanted to position Springmaid as a very fresh, optimistic American brand. There's nothing more fresh, optimistic and American than dreams."

The ads will appear as a three-age insert in April books; those magazines include Essence, Parenting, People, Redbook, Self, Vogue and the debut edition of O.

Part of the goal with Springmaid is to extend the brand message past its traditional image of sheets and bath towels. Springmaid wants to be better known for its entire line of home fashions, which includes rugs and curtains.

Ms. Gillock said, "The dream theme is to key into an aspirational message that would tie across the whole line of products. . . . One of the things we like about the campaign is that it can extend to other media."

Although, when asked about the possibility of a TV campaign, she added, the company is not actively looking to extend beyond print right now or even this year.

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