How Eve Mattresses created the most iconic British tube ads

You know this might not be relevant but we went public on Thursday so I think it’s the first retail IPO of this year and we think we ‘re one of the fastest ever companies to go public. It’s two years and 3 months from the launch to the stock market. I don’t think there are many companies that have done it faster. It’s partly the strength of the brand which is partly been created by the advertising campaigns we will talk about.

That’s how my interview with Kuba Wieczorek, Founding Partner and Branding expert of Eve Sleep, started and as you may understand, I was already really excited to hear more about it and how ‘’it totally transformed’’ Eve Mattresses business.

Everybody has noticed your campaigns, they are great. My first question is what was the thought process that you followed from the stage of conception until the final decision whether or not you will go forward with the campaign.

We knew we needed to spend money in an above the line campaign because the first 6 months, the business was mainly filled by performance marketing. Predominantly Google Adwords and Facebook were becoming more and more important to us. But Adwords was becoming less and less efficient, we realised they had a low ceiling. So we raised money from VCs and had money in the bank in order to grow. Our focus for the first few years was in fueling fast growth and we had the funds to fuel fast growth. And above the line advertising was sort of the next step for us.

We did not have advert time to go into TV but we worked with a brilliant marketing agency which identified the tube as perfect for our target audience, where our target audience were travelling and sort of like an efficient use of our media money.

So once we identified the media environment where we going to be our job became what sort of campaign we would run there. The brand itself is built in a kind of different positioning to everyone else in the market. So it really made sense.

And as a brand and advertising person I was not interested in ‘’selling sleep’’. Sleep is not really interesting because you ‘re unconscious, right? So I built a brand on the feeling of the next morning when you wake up from an Eve sleep and how you feel when you wake up from an Eve sleep. And I came up with this idea, this sense which is that ‘’Every great day, starts the night before’’ and really our brand is built around that thought.

The journey starts with the brand, really. Now, every other mattress company that you probably can think off talk about sleep and they talk dreams and night dreaming and the brand is very much built on this feeling that ‘’Buy a mattress and you ‘ll sleep very well’’ which is a kind of natural positioning for a sleep brand. But we wanted to be something different, we knew we wanted to stand apart as we were seeing ourselves as a disruptor. And as a brand and advertising person I was not interested in ‘’selling sleep’’. Sleep is not really interesting because you ‘re unconscious, right? So I built a brand on the feeling of the next morning when you wake up from an Eve sleep and how you feel when you wake up from an Eve sleep. And I came up with this idea, this sense which is that ‘’Every great day, starts the night before’’ and really our brand is built around that thought. We had that thought even before we had the yellow side of the mattress, before we had a logo, before we had everything. We had this idea that ‘’every great day starts the night before’’ and you could see how everything was built around that central thought. We are more of an energy brand than a go-to-bed or go-to-sleep brand. Everyone else was selling to consumers ‘’Good night’’ or ‘’Go to bed’’, we were telling to consumers ‘’Wake up’’ or ‘’Wakie wakie’’ or ‘’good morning’’. So that’s the brand.

To go back to your question what made us think of doing that particular creative. We wanted something which resonated more with our target audience in the tube. So we decided to work with a company who is fascinating, they are called CODEC, they use social media to build a pretty accurate portrait of what kind of messaging, what kind of content, the specific demographic group wanted. We gave our demographic data to codec. Codec took that data for a month or two and what they came back with was really fascinating, there was a key insight they came back with. They said ‘’yes your audience is quite upmarket, yes they ‘re early adopters’’ all the stuff we knew but they said something really interesting: ‘’You audience is information hungry, they love information. They wouldn’t take a photo of a plate of food in a restaurant and speak about it on instagram, but they would post the recipe on how to make that plate of food on social media and try to educate people about something.’’

So that stuck in our minds ‘’If our audience is information hungry and they are craving information, let’s create a campaign we tell the story to our audience and take them on the journey’’. And that’s what really gave birth to this idea of using the long copy for that on the tube to engage our audience to the right way. So we basically talked their language, if you like.

So that’s when we started thinking about copy with one of most famous copywriters in UK, his name is Nigel Roberts and one of the most famous Art directors called Paul Belford. We hired the most famous copywriting and art directing team in UK who created one of the most iconic British advertising and our bricks to them was that ‘’our audience wants to be engaged, we don’t want to be scared to tell a long story because of what we know about our audience’’ and ‘’Please create us a campaign’’. And that’s how it happened really. The first version had 6 executions, each of them held a slightly different story. They were very cleverly written, very conversational, so personal, they looked very distinctive, they didn’t look like mattress advertising, they really did not look like mattress advertising. They stood apart and as I said to you at the beginning that I wanted the brand to be different.

Did you launch this campaign at scale from the beginning or tested the different concepts before to see which works better?

Facebook is actually a pretty useful platform to test creative messaging on. However it’s also one of the most dangerous because it can kill truly great advertising because of the way consumers interact with it

No, we did not test anything! We did not want to put money into testing, we just wanted to do it. And you know, the way we ‘ve been testing things like photography or copies was by using Facebook. Facebook is actually a pretty useful platform to test creative messaging on. However it’s also one of the most dangerous because it can kill truly great advertising because of the way consumers interact with it, is very very different to have to interact with digital communications when watching TV or when they sit on the tube for 20 minutes having to read something. We made a conscious decision not to test it on Facebook because we knew if you put a long copy like this on Facebook it’s just too easy to scroll through and we knew it would not perform at all on Facebook.

The other way of testing advertising is obviously by using focus groups, create a few focus groups and do a qualitative or quantitative research, all of that was too expensive. We knew it would work. I am sure you will ask now how we evaluated it right?

No, I found this really insightful, it was a true guts feeling, you did not ruin it by testing it the wrong way. I would not ask you that. What I would ask you is how did you connect it with your web operations.

That’s a really good question. That was really critical, we used the same mechanic on the website, an image of a top down view of the mattress with the copy on the top of the mattress. It just looked the same as the long copy poster campaign. If you hit on our website, you will see the same style of art direction. By the way the campaign was so successful, even more successful than we could imagine in terms of revenue but I am gonna talk about that in a minute. The reason we are not doing this campaign any more is because it’s really hard to replicate it on the website. So that’s quite an insightful question. We did short of echoed the campaign by using the same art direction but is really hard to take more than just an echo.

So what are we doing now is creating a campaign so that when you visit the website you ‘re in sort of the same world. The one weakness of the long copy campaign is that is really difficult to fully integrate that into the website.

You already told me the campaign was really successful so there is no reason to discuss further about that. But before launching it, considering the costs of a tube ad, considering your LTV and expected return from that, what did you expect? Did you expect only sales or also virality?

We expected two things, really, we wanted to do 2 things. The first was to increase our brand awareness. We were on zero brand awareness before we launched it in London. We run a research 2 months before and not surprisingly, we were on 0% brand awareness. We wanted to get to 1–2%. After one month campaign, we were on 12% in London. It completely changed our awareness in London. The second metric was that we wanted to shift the needle in terms of sales. Now, the way we tracked that is we put a code in each execution so on the tube panels, I think it was ‘’NOBRAINER’’. The customer was tapping ‘’NOBRAINER’’ on the checkout box to get your 50 pounds off. So we were able to measure how many ‘’NOBRAINER’’ codes were used. Our top goal was a 20% increase in revenue in a month. We wanted from December to January to get up by 20% in sort of revenue uplift, also we wanted to see a sort of significant amount of codes been used. But, we almost doubled our revenue from before the campaign. The tube campaign completely transformed our business and shifted the needle in terms of revenue in a way that none of us thought it could be possible. I think it was 200% in revenue pre-to-post the campaign in 4 weeks. And it terms of the codes used, I think we were getting 30–40 users of the code per day. So it brought brand awareness and sales and it was probably one of the most transformational period in our business, we still talk about it in the founding team.

Even if someone did not remember the code, he / she remembered the brand. Was there a way that you could evaluate or track how virality and brand awareness brought you direct sales that you could not track through the code?

The only way we could really measure brand awareness was measuring it pre and post campaign and it went from 0 to 12% in a month. We track brand awareness, tracking virality was almost impossible from us. We did not do it. But people, consumers, investors, journalists, they still talk about the campaign and most of people think it run pretty recently, they remember it pretty clearly. But do I have any way of tracking virality? No.

I guess you saw a big spike into your organic visits. But did you see any correlation between the spike of organic visits with the spike in Google searches?

Yes huge correlation, it totally increased brand search. Yes, there was a correlation but the biggest thing was the jump into brand search. If people are not searching ‘’mattress’’ but ‘’Eve mattress’’, this puts you in a really special position because they are specifically going out and search your brand.

My last question. As a marketer, when I see the costs behind a tube advertisement, I might fear of the risk of failure. You were a small company before this campaign. How did you decide to take the risk of a different and copy heavy campaign in the tube? What sort of advice would you give to marketers that will face a similar risk?

that’s the biggest crime for me, not knowing if something works

I think, you know, any company that wants to grow has to take risks. We have taken many risks, some have paid off, some others did not. I think it’s far worse not knowing if something would be successful or not than knowing. We ‘ve done 4 rounds of press advertising, not successful. My main advice is be brave and have the courage to try different channels but main message is ‘’Measure them’’. Measure so that you know what success looks like before you set out before if you run something you are like ‘’You know what? I have no idea how this goes’’, that’s the biggest crime for me, not knowing if something works. We were always really really clear what we expected from this to do. And if you set in the right measurement criteria and processes then you will always get to learn from your mistakes. For me it’s not about doing something or not doing something, is all about knowing if something was successful.