IDEA: Mattress ads usually promise you the best eight hours of sleep you've ever had. Tempur-Pedic's new campaign looks at the other 16 hours. "You've got sheep trying to put you to sleep. You've got people floating on mattresses in white pajamas," Carmichael Lynch chief creative officer Dave Damman said of the competition. "We're not only promising you the best sleep of your life, we're giving you the reasons why you need it—because of the time you're awake."
The agency distilled this idea into a new tagline, "You are how you sleep," then explored metaphors for bringing that to life. The memorable first spot gets animalistic, à la Pixar's Brave, by showing a mother who's so grumpy from poor sleep that she's literally a bear—grumbling and growling at her twin daughters until she finally gets the rest she's been craving.
COPYWRITING: The plot was inspired by research. "We asked kids, 'What are Mom and Dad like when they don't get enough sleep?' And we had them draw some images," Damman said. "One of the responses was, 'They're like a crazy animal. Like a zoo animal, growling and screaming.' You can get a lot of honesty from a kid." The bear wakes up yelling in the opening scene, then knocks down a shelf at the supermarket, invades a soccer field to growl at the ref, and generally makes everyone miserable.
The girls narrate. Director Mike Mills got them to improvise the dialogue, based only loosely on the script. "We used to live with a bear," one says at the beginning. "It was so embarrassing that we just wanted say, 'Well, go away! Shoo, bear!' But you can't really tell bears what to do." At the end, mom becomes herself again as she rises, smiling, from a Tempur-Pedic mattress. "We never saw that bear again," one of the girls says.
The tagline appears on screen, which fades to white, revealing the logo, Web address and the line, "The most highly recommended bed in America."
FILMING/ART DIRECTION: Mills shot the ad in two days around Los Angeles. The bear is a guy in a bear suit, with two people remotely operating its facial expressions. (The suit is actually a real bear that's been taxidermied.) "There was no way those girls could have been as comfortable around a live bear," Damman said. "And there's only so much a live bear can do. It might have taken four or five hours to get a bear to look at the spinning laundry and follow it, whereas that shot took half an hour."
Damman described the visual look of the piece as "honest and artful." It's darker early on and brightens noticeably at the end. "There's a bit of a washed-out feeling of unhappiness when the bear's there," Damman said. "In the end, things are a little more alive and colorful."
TALENT: Mills spent a lot of time with the twins before shooting a single frame, to get them comfortable. (Damman himself soon learned about the world of twins when he snagged a stuffed bear out of a crane game on the supermarket set—then quickly realized he needed another, so both girls could have one.)
The mom appears only briefly, but casting was important there, too. "Her reappearance is probably the most important part of the story," Damman said, "to [demonstrate] the product benefit that you can be yourself."
SOUND: The music is a curious synthesizer track—an original piece that sounds almost droning. It adds to the dark vibe before becoming slightly more upbeat at the end. "It's unease and then resolution," Damman said. "It was the actor you didn't see."
MEDIA: National broadcast and cable, and online. A second spot, in which a sleep-deprived man is depicted as a looming dark cloud, breaks soon.
Advertising Agency: Carmichael Lynch, Minneapolis
Chief Creative Officer: Dave Damman
Executive Creative Director: Marty Senn
Art Directors: Brad Harrison, Doug Pedersen
Director of Integrated Production: Joe Grundhoefer
Producer: Jon Mielke
Account Executives: Stacy Janicki, Jesse Simon, Sarah Brehm
Senior Project Manager: Lisa Brody
Production Company: The Directors Bureau
Director: Mike Mills
Director of Photography: Kasper Tuxen
Executive producer: Lisa Margulis
Line Producer: Youree Henley
Editing House: Rock Paper
Editor: Grant Surmi
Producers: Joanna Hall, Marguerite Olivelle
Composer: Roger Neill
Sound Design: BWN Music and Sound
Sound Designer/Mix: Carl White