The Drum Awards for Marketing - Entry Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

Marketing New Business Dreams

Why mattress brand Dreams chose Iris to help it ‘modernize and move on’


By Sam Bradley | Senior Reporter

June 15, 2022 | 5 min read

Bed brand Dreams has picked Iris as its next creative and strategy partner. Its chief marketing officer Jo Martin explains why the brand picked the agency over network rivals.

dreasm bed

Dreams has chosen UK agency Iris to lead its creative and strategy account / Dreams

The move is part of a marketing refresh at the advertiser, which hopes to ”modernize and move on” its operation to stay ahead of the competition and weather harsh economic headwinds.

Following its acquisition by Tempur Sealy for £340m ($411m), Dreams has seen a changing of the sheets, with a new chief executive officer and new chief marketing officer, Jo Martin, hired last year. Bedding in a new agency was the first point of order for Martin, who says ”it felt like a time to sort of reset the organization and go again.”

Making a new bed

The brand previously worked with creative agency Uncommon, without a retainer, and with Mary Portas’s retail strategy agency Portas. Iris will be working with a strategy developed by Portas, but developing new creative to take the brand forward.

Uncommon’s work drafted veteran Hollywood actor John Goodman in to voice an anthropomorphized timber log. Martin says the campaign was memorable enough, ”but we don’t think it moved on the perception of the brand, or how we’re thought about in terms of consideration.”

She frets that the marketing approach of Dreams and its competitors has ”looked pretty much the same,” and a ”new direction” is required.

Dreams’ list of competitors is not short. It’s up against homeware retailers such as John Lewis and Ikea, traditional bed retailers such as DFS and Bensons, and the new crop of mattress startups in the form of Emma, Casper and Simba. ”We’re a market leader, but you can never get complacent. We need to keep moving on. That’s why we wanted to find a new partner to work with, to take this strategy forward into each campaign, every broadcast channel and right the way through the line.”

The account went to Iris after a three-way competitive pitch against McCann UK and Mcgarrybowen; three other unnamed agencies were considered at an earlier stage. The entire process took six weeks, Martin says.

”We wanted a smaller, more boutique agency than some of the big guns, and of course, it’s also about affordability.” A retained agency, she adds, should provide more consistency to its approach.

Work on the brand’s next creative campaign will begin shortly. Amy Bryson, chief marketing officer and managing partner from Iris, says: “It’s exciting to begin bringing our ideas to fruition alongside the Dreams team. We’re awash with ideas on how to bring the brand into a new era, and to grow market share by truly putting the customer at the center of everything it does.”

TV and radio are Dreams’ principal routes to audience currently, though video on demand (VOD) is now coming into its own, says Martin. ”A few years back, the return on investment was nowhere near what it is today. We’ve been doing some testing there that is really positive.”

And though TikTok may be the buzzy video platform of the moment, YouTube is a more valuable channel for Dreams. ”We’re quite a heavy user of YouTube,” says Martin, who also predicts a heavier focus on social. ”If you want to modernize a brand, you’ve got to be in other places where people are now spending their time, working out whether they’re going to purchase. You have to work out your role on social and the best way to show up.”

Trouble sleeping?

The brand managed to weather the impact of the pandemic ”really well,” according to Martin, especially considering that most of its products – mattresses are its principal business – are ”high-ticket items.”

Though Martin says lower consumer spending in the UK hasn’t yet hit Dreams’ sales, a predicted economic downturn might endanger that performance.

”It’s really hard to predict, and I’m sure every business is thinking about what is going to happen in the next six to 12 months from an economic perspective.” The company’s marketing will be under even greater pressure to turn brand profile into sales, she notes.

On the other hand, greater public awareness of the importance of sleep to health and wellbeing represents an opportunity for the firm. ”The majority of our business is mattresses; we provide the expertise and the specialism to help people find exactly the right one for them.” Recession or not, people will always want a good night’s sleep.

Marketing New Business Dreams

More from Marketing

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +