A clever tongue-in-cheek marketing campaign exposing dodgy online sales practices has the potential to succeed where complaints to regulators are failing to stop rip-offs.
That’s what Sleeping Duck, one of Australia’s most ethical and successful mattress makers, is banking on with a new video podcast that exposes a fake “independent” product-rating website set up by a competitor – who shamelessly put their own mattress on top of the list.
Sleeping Duck, who won two CSIA Champion Awards in 2022 (for Customer Service and Service Excellence) and have twice claimed the annual Canstar Blue Most Satisfied Customer Award (Mattresses), have resorted to humour to “out” the misleading website, top5bestmattresses.com.au.
The site gives the “Emma Comfort Mattress” the top score of 8.9 and relegates the superior “Sleeping Duck Mach II” with a 6.0. Who owns the site? Emma, arguably a discount-oriented copycat brand of Sleeping Duck, Australia’s most successful mattress and bedding company, hatched in 2014 by Melbourne-based engineers Winston Wijeyeratne and Selvam Sinnappan.
After some initial investigation, it was discovered that the comparison site is operated by DIBMat GmbH, a fully-owned subsidiary of Emma Sleep which owns the Emma mattress.
Sleeping Duck co-founder, Winston Wijeyeratne, said: “We made a complaint about this flagrant misrepresentation to the ACCC. In response, they demanded that Emma include a disclaimer on its site, with no further action required. In our view, that’s just not good enough from an industry regulator in this day and age. Consumers shouldn’t be subjected to unethical marketing practices.
“So we decided to take on this dodgy operator and its suss mattress comparisons another way. We have created four educational, albeit tongue-in-cheek, videos as a how-to guide in selecting your mattress that warn consumers of deceitful marketing practices.
“Sleeping Duck began because the mattress industry lacked transparency. Customers weren’t being told what’s inside that expensive mattress. We focus on being transparent and educating the public, not dishonest online marketing and advertising tactics,” he added.
The video series called “Lawrence Mattress Testing” features comedian and actor Lawrence Ola as Sleeping Duck’s number one fan and mattress tester, in his self-appointed role as a podcast host, along with his wife Ruby.
In episode one, Lawrence is shocked to hear from a friend that the award-winning Sleeping Duck mattress he recommended has bombed on a mattress comparison website. Further investigation leads him to the shock discovery about the mattress brand the site has given the top score to.
In episode two, Lawrence and Ruby provide tips to identify unethical sales tactics when mattress shopping – how to spot biased reviews and fake comparison sites, and be aware of placing blind trust in videos made by paid affiliates.
Episode three offers practical tips on purchase. For example, go “old school”: pick up the phone and spend a couple of minutes actually talking to a mattress company. Or ask your friends for an opinion.
In the fourth and final episode, Lawrence and Ruby reflect on their journey and provide a convenient summary of mattress shopping the proper way.
“We think our campaign is a timely warning to consumers to use trusted sources each time they shop, particularly during Black Friday and Cyber Monday and leading into Christmas and Boxing Day sales,” Mr Wijeyeratne said.
Head of Creative at Sleeping Duck, Prateek Bando, reckons using Lawrence Mattress Testing as the vehicle to educate consumers is a no-brainer.
“Lawrence and Ruby have become great characters in the Sleeping Duck brand story. They have the kind of conversations real people have as they try to work out what mattress to buy in a highly confusing market,” he said.
“Their natural chemistry and genuineness aligns with Sleeping Duck’s philosophy, which has to do with honesty, transparency, value, quality, health-focused innovation and treating our customers with the same level of respect we would give a family member.”
The campaign is a Sleeping Duck in-house creative production, shot in Sydney, with Lawrence Ola and Ruby O’Kelly as passionate husband and wife amateur mattress testers. Follow the campaign at lawrencemattresstesting and on Instagram @sleepingduck.
Media interviews: Karen Eck, eckfactor, 0438 532 569 Karen@eckfactor.com
View episode one HERE
Campaign Images available HERE