Mattress Firm Dreams Up Tech-Focused Campaign With Steve Wozniak Kickoff

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Forget Casper: Mattress Firm—the 31-year-old national chain with 3,600 stores—is aiming to be the trendy player of the sleep industry. On Tuesday morning, the retailer will host a live keynote address with Silicon Alley icon Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, to announce two new tech-infused mattresses, much like Steve Jobs or Tim Cook have done in the past in unveiling Apple products.

The reveal, which kicks off the Houston-based company's new "Technology to Power Off" campaign, is meant to elevate Mattress Firm's status as an innovative tech brand appealing to both tired millennials and older generations. Though the company is the largest bed seller by far, especially given the recent acquisition of Sleepy's and Sleep Train, recent so-called disruptors such as Casper, Leesa and Tuft & Needle, have challenged its status by appealing to urban 20-somethings eager to say they purchased a bed-in-a-box.

"The average American isn't lining up outside a mattress retail store waiting for the latest breakthrough in technology," said Sicily Dickenson, Mattress Firm's chief marketing officer, who joined the company late last year. "It's about taking that first step toward just stopping the sea of sameness out there around sales and price and that perception that shopping for a mattress is going to end up like a used-car experience."

The brand tapped Droga5 earlier this year to improve Mattress Firm's brand purpose and handle the new campaign. The push includes two 30-second TV commercials, with 15-second versions, that highlight two new products—the Beautyrest Black HybridPlus, which is a foam mattress with coils, and the Serta iComfort TempTouch, a foam mattress with cooling technology—as the latest tech unveils. The campaign will also include radio and digital. On Monday afternoon, Mattress Firm will announce Wozniak's address in a sponsored content post on

"The opportunity to help Mattress Firm transform their powerful business into a potent brand, through the line, is exhilarating," said Sarah Thompson, global chief executive of Droga5, in a statement.

In addition to the Droga5 relationship, Mattress Firm is also working with Jackson Spalding on PR and Havas on its Dream Bed brand, which is its own bed-in-a-box foam mattress product.

Dickenson said most people wear not sleeping as a badge of honor, but that health and wellness can actually be derived from the way you sleep. To that end, Mattress Firm is not the only brand trying to tap into the popularity of sleep marketing. In addition to mattress sellers, anti-snoring devices, sound machines and aromatherapy products are all trying to get their piece of the pie.

But Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist and sleep expert, said what the industry really needs is mattress simplification. With so many prices and options, the buying experience is overwhelming for consumers.

"I get tired of the bells and whistles," said Los Angeles-based Breus. He said brands could offer top-to-bottom customization of mattresses at stores, complete with body scans, or also expand upon the in-store buying experience to include sheets, earplugs and sound machines—"the ultimate bedroom experience"—in order to truly break through the clutter.

Dickenson declined to say how much Mattress Firm, a $4 billion retailer, is spending on the new effort. In 2016, the brand spent $230 million on measured media in the U.S., according to Kantar Media.

Correction: Mattress Firm is a $4 billion retailer. An earlier version of this story failed to take into account the company's recent acquisitions.

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