Last week while watching "House" on the USA cable station I saw an ad for an Incredible Hulk comic book Sleepy's Mattress stores is selling to benefit the American Cancer Association. With over 700 locations nationwide, it wasn't hard to find a Sleepy's near my house where I could pick one up. Overall, I think it's a neat cause marketing program that's something different from what you traditionally see in stores.
- It's a comic book instead of a pin-up, and the storyline includes The Sleepy's Man, the mattress sellers very own superhero.
- Sleepy's was smart to push the higher price point, $3 instead of a buck.
- With 700 stores Sleepy's certainly fulfills the first requirement for point-of-sale success: lots of locations.
- Sleepy's is supporting the cause marketing campaign with ad dollars, as I witnessed in their spot on cable.
- The three employees I met at the store were knowledgeable about the program and applauded my support. The message had definitely trickled down from corporate that this was an important, meaningful promotion.
But this cause marketing effort has a couple challenges as well.
- While rich in stores, Sleepy's aren't known for their foot traffic. The day I picked up my comic book I was the only one in the store. The salesman admitted that he had sold three. "Three today?", I asked. "No," he said. "Three since I started working here." Which had been a couple weeks.
- The timing of the campaign is also off. The Incredible Hulk movie was released when, September? Why didn't they do the program then? It came out on DVD on October 21, but the store I went to had only had the comic a couple of weeks. While the movie wasn't the big hit everyone expected, combining the launch of the program with the release of the movie could have given the program more legs and actually driven traffic to Sleepy's.
So how could this cause marketing program been improved?
- While I'm a big fan of a point-of-sale, Sleepy's business is probably better suited for a percentage-of-sale program. They could pick one or more mattresses and donate $5 to $25 or more to ACS over say a two to six week period. Because while Sleepy's doesn't have the foot traffic of a supermarket, they do sell a lot mattresses and they're not cheap. And quite a few more dollars would be raised for ACS, giving Sleepy's a lot more to talk and brag about in their advertising and PR.
The Incredible Hulk comic is a good idea. It's different, has a good price-point and would be the right cause marketing vehicle for a retail chain with lots of locations and the foot traffic to match. Sleepy's isn't that chain. But they'll have better success next time. Picking the right cause marketing program is like choosing the right mattress: it takes time and you have to try a few out to pick the right one. Fortunately, in both mattresses and cause marketing, Sleepy's has lots of choices.