Publication: ANA Magazine

When Disruption Happens, What’s the Best Way for Brands to Respond?

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November 30, 2017

For the longest time, the mattress industry seemed impervious to the digital disruption rocking so many business sectors, from hotels to music. Then, in 2014, Casper Sleep introduced the bed-in-a-box, a mattress ordered online and delivered, neatly compressed, in a cardboard box. Initial orders were impressive and media coverage loud. After that, a slew of other online rivals, like Tuft & Needle and Leesa, entered the market with their own competitive versions.

According to Warren Kornblum, interim CMO at Serta Simmons Bedding (SSB), one of the leaders in the industry and seller of the Serta and Simmons mattress brands, Casper’s success came as a proverbial wake-up call. Consumers, the company realized, found mattress shopping annoying, time-consuming, and confusing, and were, in fact, thrilled that there was an easier alternative.

So SSB stepped up its game, enlisting marketing as a big player. Working hand in hand with product development, it launched a new social media effort to establish the brand as a thought leader in the sleep space. In June, the company also introduced its own direct-to-consumer line called Tomorrow Sleep. “The first reaction of many companies in this situation might be to throw up your hands and say, ‘woe is […]

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Should Brands Get Political?

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March 14, 2017

At least six major brands ran ads during Super Bowl LI that addressed political or social issues such as immigration and gender equality.

At an average cost of $5 million per 30-second spot, those were some pretty expensive statements to make. Budweiser, Airbnb, 84 Lumber, Google Home, Audi, and Coca-Cola might have been lauded or jeered, depending on one’s personal point of view, for delivering those messages, but did the brands get their money’s worth?

It’s a difficult question to answer, and it raises even more questions about if and when brands should speak out about policies or proposed laws, the challenges involved in doing so, and the risks of not speaking up on issues that are important to their customer base.

On a pragmatic marketing level, there is also the question of whether issue-oriented spots provide a worthwhile return on investment. The weekend after Super Bowl LI, Saturday Night Live ran a skit depicting a fictitious ad pitch session for Cheetos that lampooned the agencies that create activist ads and the marketing managers who buy them. It was exaggerated and satirical, of course, but it likely had a lot of marketing folks talking about the underlying issues that Monday.

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