“The Rest of a Lifetime”: Casper at SXSW

On its website, South by Southwest describes itself as a “unique convergence of original music, independent films, and emerging technologies.” Needless to say, all this interactive media means for mountains of integrated social activity — both online and offline.

“South by” is many things. Boring is not one of them. Attendees do many things at SXSW. Sleeping is typically not one of them. Unless they happened to stumble on the Casper Nap Truck, that is:

Image from Empire Entertainment: http://www.empireentertainment.com/project_detail.php?id=1055506

Like a couch or a dining room table, a mattress is a big-ticket, multi-year purchase. But buying a mattress is a slightly higher-stakes one: you probably won’t sit on your couch or eat at your dining room table every day, but you probably will sleep every day (at least I hope so, for your sake). At any rate, knowing you’ll spend a third of your life asleep, it makes sense to invest in a really good mattress.

Most customers in the market for a new mattress will go to a retailer like Sleepy’s to touch, feel, and lie down on a bunch of beds to determine which mattress to purchase. Because the sleep startup Casper doesn’t have retail stores — only a NYC showroom — and sells direct-to-consumer from their website, it’s hard for potential customers to trust the brand beyond its clever messaging and experience one of their mattresses in person.

So the sleep startup decided to hit the road to get more eyeballs on the brand and more bodies on their mattresses. Literally.

Starting in February 2016, Casper embarked on 2-month “Nap Tour” outside its New York City HQ to six different cities across the United States: “SIX CITIES. ONE PERFECT MATTRESS. A ZILLION ZZZ’S.” They stopped in Austin, Texas for the notoriously exhausting festival, South by Southwest.

I’m sure their are plenty of internal metrics Casper is using to measure the success of the Nap Truck — number of naps taken, email subscribers obtained, and so on. I’d call it a success strictly from this: whenever I passed by the parking lot on 4th and Colorado, all four nap quarters were booked. The truck, much like my life, was too busy for me to get a nap in.

But Casper still had me hooked —the swag bag an employee gave me with a KIND granola bar, hello! toothpaste and breath spray, soft BOMBA socks, and Kiehl’s night serum sealed the deal with its contents and its too true tagline.

I loved it so much, I felt compelled to share it on social — which was probably one of Casper’s goals. Here’s the picture and caption I posted on Facebook, to high approval from friends on social media:

“We like to party. And by party we mean take naps.” Never before has a mattress company made me feel so understood. Best SXSW swag award goes to Casper.”

Casper, I never got the chance to sleep on you in Texas, but the jury rests: you’ve won me over. And until I’m in the market for a new mattress, I’ll be dreaming of you.

Curious about the implications of social media for “business” in my final semester of my MBA, I decided to enroll in a class called “Social Media Management.” This is the fifth of ten posts I am writing as a part of this course analyzing the past, present, and future of social media.