• David Perry

Tempur-Pedic's rise: A history of clever marketing

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Swedish scientists, celebrities, NASA research, and a bold better sleep promise all played a role in the rise of the iconic Tempur-Pedic brand.

That brand, which celebrates its silver anniversary in the United States this year, currently ranks as the No. 4 bedding brand in the industry, based on wholesale shipments. It’s one of just four bedding brands to top the $1 billion mark in annual shipments, and the others – Serta, Sealy and Simmons – have been in the bedding game for decades (or centuries) longer.

The emergence of Tempur-Pedic as one of the industry’s most powerful brands, and one of the few that focuses on the specialty sleep side of the industry, is a story of perseverance, smart marketing, and an unconventional approach to the market.

Kentucky entrepreneur Bob Trussell Jr. brought the brand to the United States in 1992, starting with a pillow made of something the company called Tempur material. That pressure- and heat-sensitive material conforms to the body in a unique way, company officials say. Consumers warmed up to it over the years.

Tempur-PedicLegacyThe Tempur-Pedic Legacy is a limited edition model celebrating the company's 25-year history in the U.S. market.
Tempur-Pedic officials recently looked back into the company’s archives at Tempur Sealy International’s headquarters here to revisit the marketing campaigns that helped the brand build awareness and sales in its early years.

The campaigns touted the unique qualities of Tempur-Pedic mattresses and their European roots. And there was some name-dropping along the way.

Tempur-Pedic ran many full-page ads that were rich with copy that told the company’s story in much more detail than other bedding ads.

“Swedish scientists work undercover to create this weightless sleep system!” was the banner headline on one ad. “They use NASA’s anti-G-force research to invent a marvel of molecular physics,” read the deck headline.

“Recognized by NASA” was a message carried by many of the ads, which also featured a picture of an astronaut floating in space. Those ads tout the benefits of “weightless sleep,” a nod to the different type of sleep provided by Tempur material, which is called memory foam by other producers.

The space images positioned Tempur-Pedic beds as featuring space-age technology, a compelling and attractive message.

An ad that ran in 1998 pictured the Earth floating in a sea of black space and this message by Trussell: “I promise you … this bed will make a world of difference.”

Tempur-Pedic also connected with consumers by reaching out to celebrities.

In 2003 the company launched a campaign to establish Tempur-Pedic as the “Mattress of the Stars.” It participated in a number of celebrity events that year where stars were introduced to the product through celebrity gift baskets.

In the years that followed, Tempur-Pedic stressed the comfort its beds provide.

“Comfort redefined” was the message of one ad dating back to 2005-2006. The ad pictured an attractive woman lying on her Tempur-Pedic mattress and pillow and smiling contentedly. “Experience a whole new level of comfort,” the ad said.

Another early message: “You’ve got to feel it to believe it!”

Over the years, millions of consumers have felt the beds and have become believers. And on the strength of that devoted consumer base a brand was built, officials said.

David PerryDavid Perry | Executive Editor, Furniture Today
dperry@furnituretoday.com

Hi, online readers. I'm David Perry, executive editor of Furniture/Today, and the writer on the mattress beat. Get my musings on mattresses on our web site and on my Twitter feed. And let me know what you would like me to write about in the wonderful world of mattresses.

Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DT_Perry
See my first music video at http://ftbeddingman.com/

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