CINCINNATI - Procter & Gamble Co. has an eye-opening campaign ready with Macy’s Inc. pitching its Downy fabric softener at the many Americans who don’t get enough sleep.
P&G will offer Downy as sleep aid with a 7-day live window display featuring comedian Mike Birbiglia at retailer Macy’s Herald Square store, beginning next week. Birbiglia, known for his routines making light of his sleepwalking problem, will talk with fans, interact online and, it’s planned, sleep.
P&G planned to post details Friday afternoon on Downy’s Facebook page.
P&G says it woke up to the possibilities for the 50-year-old brand during marketing last year for new Downy versions that pledged to provide “clean sheet day” freshness for a week. Downy marketers said consumers kept talking about looking forward to sleeping and feeling more comfortable with newly washed sheets.
Studies have shown that sleep — or lack of it — has become a growing issue for many, with implications for health, safety, job performance and marital satisfaction. It was an intriguing new link for Downy, one of 23 brands for the maker of Tide detergent and
Pampers diapers with at least $1 billion a year in sales.
“We are looking to new consumer groups and new places that consumers are looking for our product to be helpful at,” said Marty Vanderstelt, Downy brand manager. “So this whole idea of how important sleep is now for America, how important the topic is, sort of spawns new explorations, new spaces, for us.” That led to a P&G-funded bedroom study by the nonprofit National Sleep Foundation, which found that clean, fresh-scented sheets are among things that large majorities of people say help them sleep better, with sheets and other bedding ranking just below comfortable pillows and mattresses.
The foundation, which promotes research and public awareness about the need for adequate sleep, cites other studies that the average amount of sleep has been declining in recent decades. Some 40 percent of Americans report problems consistently getting a good night’s sleep, with steady rises in those sleeping less than six hours a night.
“There’s a significant amount of sleep deprivation in society, and we’re trained to just set the alarm clock and caffeinate our way thrugh the day,” said David Cloud, the foundation’s chief executive.
He said the bedroom study suggests that it’s worthwhile for people to spend more time on the comfort of their bedroom.
“Even the small indulgences like fresh-smelling sheets can help,” Cloud said.
“I think there is something there,” Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist and sleep expert in Glendale, Ariz., said of the notion that fresh sheets could help sleep.
He recommends “making your bedroom a sanctury for sleep,” paying attention to all senses, and said pleasant touch and smell can help make people feel more comfortable and relaxed.
Downy marketers say the new campaign will include television ads and social networks, with Birbiglia interacting with people on Twitter and Facebook. The campaign is a joint effort among P&G, ad agencies Grey Worldwide and Digitas, DeVries public relations and Macy’s.
Macy’s spokesman Orlando Veras said while Macy’s has hosted live product demonstrations in its windows, there’s been nothing comparable to having Birbiglia staying there for a week.
“It will be quite an interesting sight to witness, even for jaded New Yorkers,” Veras said.