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By Jennifer Faull | Deputy Editor

August 19, 2015 | 3 min read

The bedding industry is in a marketing rut, talking about price, promotions and little else. But Dreams marketing director is “breaking the mould” to talk about old, dirty mattresses.

The bed retailer’s refreshed marketing strategy was born from research it commissioned which found that thousands of Brits are sleeping on mattresses over 40 years old; sweat drenched and full of dead skin cells.

Dubbed ‘Replace Every 8’, it taps into the UK’s fascination with filth – heightened with TV programmes like Channel 4’s "Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners" - and encourages people to change their mattress every eight years if they want to keep them hygienic.

The shift to talk about mattress health builds on a wider charge to position the retailer as a ‘sleep expert’. Last summer its strapline changed to ‘Because your Sleep Matters’, and it ran a series of ads showing what happens when you don’t get enough sleep.

Speaking to The Drum less than a week into ‘Replace Every 8’s’ roll out, marketing director Lisa Bond said the research has already been picked up by a plethora of national newspapers and was featured in a slot on Good Morning Britain.

“People either talk about the weather or talk about sleep,” joked Bond. “There’s been amazing pick up.”

The TV creative has however taken a softer approach but still moved away from the traditional product/price focus to an emotional execution in portraying a family bedroom, using time-lapse photography to show the life of a mattress.

“We’ve broken away from this industry’s mould of advertising,” said Bond. “We’ve seen a massive uplift in brand awareness, intent to purchase, spontaneous awareness, and quality perception. The brand is much stronger and healthier. Our performance bears that out as well; we’ve had a phenomenal first year and as a marketers I’d like to think we had something to do with that.”

Dreams returned to profit for the first time since its administration in 2013 when it was sold off to private equity firm Sun European.

With the retailer now positioning itself as the ‘sleep expert’, its media strategy has shifted to focus more on content creation as people research their sleep patters online.

“Two years ago we had TV, which is still a massive part of our marketing programme, but we’ve ramped up social media presence and PR which we didn’t previously have.”

This has helped boost like-for-like sales through its website by 30 per cent over the past year, she said.

Moving forward, Bond has another wave of research into mattress hygiene planned to maintain the campaign’s momentum.

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