Serta, Tempur Sealy battle over banner ad
David Perry -- Furniture Today, July 30, 2013
LAS VEGAS - The Battle of Bedding Banners here has taken an unexpected turn, one that will bring a sizable donation to pancreatic cancer research. It turns out that Tempur Sealy International's bear has a charitable heart, one that Serta reached with a pointed ad.
Serta's five-story tall banner, hanging from the parking deck on the World Market Center campus, takes a shot at Tempur Sealy's Tempur-Pedic brand, which is using a bear in one of its ads this year. The Serta ad pictures Counting Sheep No. 1 and this message: "Scary Bears. Really?"
The ad quickly became the talk of the bedding market and sparked a stinging response from Tempur Sealy officials, who were not amused by the ad.
"We don't understand how intentionally destructive messages help the retailer or dignify the industry," said Rick Anderson, president of Tempur-Pedic North America. "Rather than respond with a banner of our own, we are taking the money and donating it to pancreatic cancer research on behalf of the bedding industry. We like the bedding industry and we want it to be an industry of stature."
Responding to Anderson's comments, Serta's Andrew Gross said: "Counting Sheep No. 1 has his own personality and his own point of view. Sometimes he says what's on his mind."
Gross, senior vice president of marketing, said Serta applauds Tempur Sealy's support of pancreatic cancer research. "Serta is a big supporter of City of Hope," he added. "Last year the Serta Counting Sheep helped raise nearly $500,000 for the City of Hope."
He also said that in its advertising, Serta aims to give consumers a clear reason why they should buy and why they should visit a retailer to buy a new sleep set.
Bedding observers say that the banners, several of which feature bedding companies, cost in the neighborhood of $40,000 each.
Anderson defended the bear ad, saying that it builds an emotional connection with consumers and elevates the Tempur-Pedic brand as it makes the link between sleeping on a Tempur-Pedic bed and feeling better the next day.
He said Tempur-Pedic will continue to use that ad and others in its ad portfolio, including the "Ask Me" ad widely credited as being one of the company's strongest efforts.
Anderson said the bear ad was "not designed as a call to action."
Tempur Sealy officials weren't the only ones to question the Serta ad. Some other bedding executives said privately they thought the ad was not befitting a market leader and should not have taken aim at a specific competitor.
This isn't the first time Serta has created waves with a banner ad in Las Vegas. A while back Serta chided its iComfort competitors by calling out the "cheap-ass knockoffs" in the market. But that ad did not single out one company, as the current ad apparently does, although it does not specifically name Tempur-Pedic.
Bedding buyers arriving at the World Market Center campus have become accustomed to the five-story tall banners touting mattress lines. The banners spark lively discussions among the sizable contingent of bedding producers, suppliers and retailers that attend the markets here.
The latest crop of bedding banners features two ads by Simmons, one by Sealy, one by Vivon, and one by King Koil, in addition to the Serta ad that has sparked controversy. More than half of the banners are devoted to bedding companies.
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