Sealey Seeks Southeast Shop

CHICAGO – Sealy Mattresses is in the early stages of a review for its estimated $12-15 million advertising account, having split with Chicago’s Leo Burnett.
With Sealy’s review getting under way, the two top mattress makers in the world are currently seeking new agencies. Serta Mat-tresses of Itascao, Ill., confirmed last week that it has enlisted Bill Weilbacher of Bismark in Dennis, Mass., as a search consultant.
Sealy, the world’s No. 1 mattress maker, formerly headquartered in Cleveland, is looking for an agency closer to its new home in High Point, N.C. “There are some terrific regional agencies [here],” said David McIlquham, Sealy’s vice president of sales and marketing.
Sealy has already scheduled credential meetings with some local agencies, to be completed by the end of the first week in July, and expects to have a new shop on board by the end of August. It wants a partner with a strong retail operation, McIlquham said.
Sealy and Burnett ended their nine-year relationship due to the agency’s increasing dissatisfaction with the client’s shrinking advertising budget, sources said. The company spent $42 million on advertising in 1995, but only $15 million last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
Separately, competitor Serta is also in play. According to Serta vice president of advertising Susan Ebaugh, incumbent Publicis & Hal Riney is expected to participate.
Riney here has had a tumultuous year since its sale to Publicis, with heavy staff turnover resulting in some disgruntled clients and defections. The latter includes the Budget Group, which last week moved the creative portion of its $40 million business to Cliff Freeman and Partners in New York following a review. – with T.W. Siebert and Jim Osterman