Once (and Again) Upon A Mattress

Folks could sleep in peace in Southern California last week—some even on lumpy old mattresses—after Sit ‘n Sleep’s number-crunching co-spokesman, Irwin, reappeared in the bedding retailer’s omnipresent radio spots after a seven-month absence.

“People were asking, ‘Where’s Irwin?’ ” says Cary Sacks, creative director of independent Ideology in Marina del Rey, Calif., which handles the $7 million ad account. If urgent Web campaigns are calling for his return and rest-deprived shoppers are grilling superstore employees, says Sacks, “You start thinking maybe he’s being missed.”

Ideology choreographed five years of polarizing 30-second pillow talks between company owner Larry Miller (shown in the billboard here) and his fictional accountant; in each spot, Miller lowers prices while Irwin screams what has become the Sit ‘n Sleep tagline: “You’re killing me, Larry!”

Then, last spring, Irwin was gone. Rumors flew like goose-down feathers: Had the nerve-rattled CPA gone into retirement? Had the retailer led him to an early grave?

Fortunately, no. “You just can’t keep a team like that apart,” Sacks posits. To the tune of Peaches & Herb’s 1980 chart-topper “Reunited,” Irwin has returned in a poignant new radio commercial, in which he and Miller vow never to part ways again—even if, as Miller has often suggested, the mattresses are “freeeeee!”