Sleepy’s Mulls 3 Shops for Media Business

Annual spending rising to $65 million

A retailer that historically has handled its marketing needs internally is looking outside for an agency to plan and buy most of its media.

Sleepy’s has some 800 stores in 15 states along the East Coast, between Maine and North Carolina. Advertising for the family-owned business—including a 2011 Super Bowl commercial—has long used “The mattress professionals” as a tagline

The media agency search comes as the company plans to expand its marketing efforts and increase media spending to an estimated $65 million next year, said Mike Drexler of Drexler/Fajen & Partners, a New York-based consultancy managing the process. Last year, media spending on the brand exceeded $58 million, up from nearly $55 million in 2010, according to Nielsen.

The assignment encompasses traditional and digital media responsibilities but excludes media buying in newspapers, which remains in-house, Drexler said. Creative efforts are also in-house and not in play—at least for now.

After meeting with six shops, executives at Sleepy’s have narrowed the field to three finalists: Horizon Media, KSL and Optimedia, all in New York, according to Drexler. Each agency has been briefed and is preparing for final presentations, which will take place in January at the retailer’s headquarters in Hicksville, N.Y.

“We expect the result to include a more integrated marketing approach and a more effective unification of multimedia and creative disciplines,” said Jeff Lobb, Sleepy’s chief marketing officer.  

Lobb, a former marketing leader at Walmart Canada and the Pepsi Bottling Group in Somers, N.Y., joined the retailer in July. His position is new.

Sleepy’s expects to select a media shop shortly after final pitches, which are slated for Jan. 8.