De-Stress Test: Sleep and Meditation App Calm Launches Its First TV Ads

It’s time to chill out, people

5 minutes of bliss. Calm

Do clamorous kids marching around the house at 7 a.m. stress you out? How about back-to-back (to-back-to-back) work meetings, or traffic jams where you wind up staring at the same stupid bumper sticker on the car in front of you for 30 minutes straight?

Calm, Apple’s reigning app of the year, positions itself as a balm for such daily irritants in its first TV campaign.

Developed by Sandwich Video and launched this week, the push features a pair of spots touting Calm’s ability to help you relax, meditate and get a better night’s sleep. The ad below presents inner monologues from folks who desperately need to unwind. (Hey, maybe there’s an app for that!)

The first rule of parenthood: if you buy the kid a drum, she’ll bang on the thing all day!

“The goal of this campaign was to show that integrating mindfulness into your day is something everyone can benefit from, and it doesn’t need to be a big time commitment, either,” Katie Shill, director of marketing at Calm, tells Adweek. “It can be a simple way to hit the pause button and take a moment for yourself. And even that little moment can have a huge impact.”

Next, we get testimonials from customers, including a guy who says Calm helps him “sleep eight hours a day, and that’s even with a toddler in the house,” and a woman who swears the app transformed her life:

Best known for its ads on Instagram, Calm’s TV debut—driven by the desire to target a broader audience—doesn’t display the most stirring creative approach.

Still, wacky and wild elements (say, a 100-member backyard marching band instead of one little drummer) might have felt like overkill for this particular brand. These ads come across as supportive and sincere, giving viewers ample reason to download Calm and learn what all the excitement is about.

“We didn’t want to be too clever, we just wanted to introduce the app in a clear, straightforward way,” Shill says. “When the problem being addressed is something as fundamental as anxiety or insomnia, you don’t need to go over the top. Viewers will understand on an almost primal level how Calm could change their lives.”


Director: JP Bolles
Creative Director: Adam Lisagor
Copywriter: Joshua Allen
Producer: David Beglin
Executive Producer: Lauren Cynkar
Director of Photography: Mark Schwartzbard
Production Designer: Eric Jeon
Wardrobe Stylist: June Suepunpuck
Post Supervisor: Zach Hobesh
Editor: Benjamin Lebeau
Online Editor: Lindsey Norden
Colorist: Benjamin Lebeau
Casting: Vicki Goggin Casting

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.