Annual public-relations campaign to promote a good night’s rest dates back decades
As we celebrate this year’s May Is Better Sleep Month with special public-relations campaigns and promotions, let’s skip back through history and take a brief look at its roots.
The industry launched its first major PR effort with the creation of an “Invest in Rest” slogan in 1926. The inaugural National Better Bedding Week was held just a few years later and, in 1932, the industry doubled-down on its branding by changing the campaign’s name to National Invest in Rest Week.
World War II, with its attendant price ceilings and materials shortages, put a stop to industrywide advertising, but by 1948, the National Association of Bedding Manufacturers (now called the International Sleep Products Association) was ready to embrace PR again and rolled out the National Sleep Show—an event focused on drawing consumers into retailers to see the latest and greatest bedding products. In 1954, the Sleep Show was renamed Better Bedding Time. NABM prepared a sales promotion kit for members to give to retailers and its retailer-focused magazine, Bedding Merchandiser, offered plenty of ideas for ways to display and promote bedding during the month.
By 1961, the industry’s annual promotion had morphed again, becoming Better Sleep Month, then held in September. J. Paul Fanning, NABM secretary and general manager, called that year’s event “the most ambitious and comprehensive marketing program our industry had ever undertaken.” Just like today’s Better Sleep Month, it would draw together suppliers, manufacturers and retailers to promote the sale of better bedding throughout the period.
Before Sleep Savvy there was Bedding Merchandiser
Decades before mattress retailers relied on Sleep Savvy for selling techniques, display ideas, industry trends and other information, they turned to the Bedding Merchandiser, a magazine published by the National Association of Bedding Manufacturers from 1945 to 1957.
NABM (later renamed the International Sleep Products Association) wanted to use the magazine in the same way it used its flagship publication, now BedTimes, to elevate the manufacturing and sales practices of bedding producers. Bedding Merchandiser’s mission from its launch was to help improve retailers’ businesses.
During the era, bedding was sold primarily by department and full-line furniture stores, and the Bedding Merchandiser encouraged the creation of well-appointed, bedding-only sections within those retailers. It regularly featured multipage profiles of successful bedding departments and even created a “Planning for Bedding Sales” workbook with templates for department layouts, plans for building in-store display fixtures and tips on choosing lighting and color palettes. It sold for $2.50.
Other topics covered regularly included advertising and promotions, sales training, bedding constructions and components, industry sales statistics, and consumer and housing trends.
In 1957, NABM decided it wanted to reach retailers in other ways and stopped publishing the magazine. Those in the bedding industry know it’s a cyclical one: Several decades later, the association realized a focused magazine had, indeed, been one of the most effective ways to engage retailers and created Sleep Savvy—which successfully carries out many the Bedding Merchandiser’s original missions today.