‘We are not a DTC brand’: Why Eve Sleep is positioning beyond mattresses

Eve Sleep has created a “world first” ‘night mode’ TV ad break as it looks to raise awareness of its positioning as a sleep wellness brand and build a business for the long-term.

Eve Sleep Channel 4 ad takeover
Eve Sleep has created a ‘night mode’ ad break takeover on Channel 4 to encourage people to get a better night’s sleep.

Eve Sleep has created what it is calling a “world first night mode” TV ad break as it looks to raise awareness of its positioning as a sleep wellness brand and work to make access to sleep a fundamental human right.

To mark World Sleep Day today (13 March), Eve has partnered with its media agency Goodstuff and Channel 4 to create an ad break it hopes will help the nation sleep more easily. The roadblock ad break will air across Channel 4, E4 and More4 at 9.45pm on Sunday.

All brands featured during the takeover have removed the blue light from their ads to stop its brain-stimulating effect, replacing it with an amber-coloured filter. Brands appearing in the break include Calpol, second-hand car site Cazoo, Listerine, The AA and Velux.

During the ad break following the takeover, Eve will air a 90-second relaxation film that features adults, a young child, a baby and a puppy enjoying a good night’s sleep. It will also offer some practical tips on getting a good night’s sleep and ask people to join its fight to get sleep recognised in the UK as a fundamental human right.

Speaking exclusively to Marketing Week, Eve Sleep’s CMO Cheryl Calverley says: “Raising awareness of sleep and improvement in sleep is key. We wanted to do something that is a real statement of our intent to make a difference.”

The ad takeover is aimed at raising awareness of Eve Sleep’s positioning as a sleep wellness brand. Despite launching amid the groundswell of direct-to-consumer mattress brands, Calverley says hearing Eve described as such makes her “bristles slightly go up”.

“We want to build a big, successful, sustainable brand on a big far-reaching customer need,” she explains. “The ambitions here are not to disrupt the mattress market, which is just about a bricks to clicks shift. My bristles slightly go up when people call us a DTC brand, we are not. We are a sleep wellness brand and we will sell our products and sell our content and drive awareness of our stuff in every channel that is relevant for the customer.”

Her comments come amid a wider questioning of the success of the DTC strategy, with many companies that were founded in that era still struggling to make a profit. While Eve started out selling direct-to-consumers and mostly advertising in digital, it now sells in retail through Next and Debenhams, and has a marketing strategy that spans all media.

The Channel 4 ad takeover, for example, is just the start of a two-week push by the brand to get people talking about sleep and how to get better sleep. It will also be communicating this through press and PR, CRM and website takeovers.

The positioning as a sleep wellness brand is also key to Eve if it is to differentiate in a competitive market where many rivals are heavily product-focused and willing to offer steep discounts. With mattresses an item that consumers buy infrequently, Eve wants to ensure it has more than a “one-night stand” relationship with customers by talking about the importance of sleep and selling more than mattresses.

The ambitions here are not to disrupt the mattress market, which is just about a bricks to clicks shift. My bristles slightly go up when people call us a DTC brand, we are not. We are a sleep wellness brand.

Cheryl Calverley, Eve Sleep

“We will not be successful if all we are is a mattress brand, there are a million of them and you can get a perfectly good one anywhere; it’s a dog fight. There has to be much more to our offering,” she admits.

“We strategically want to be much more significant in society, in culture and in the market than being a mattress brand. Our way to do that is to build out our consumer promise to be a sleep wellness business and help you with sleep, not just flog you a mattress.”

The importance of taking a more-rounded view on sleep is key to consumers, explains Calverley. In focus groups about sleep and sleep problems, consumers don’t talk about mattresses but about “really big stuff” such as not being able to wind down, the impact of technology, environmental issues such as noise and light, and worries about work or family.

That is why Eve has taken up the mantle of asking the UK Parliament to recognise sleep as a fundamental human right – writing a letter to the secretary of state for justice and starting a petition on change.org. Currently, India is the only country in the world where this is the case.

“Right at the bottom of it is they need a cracking mattress and a lovely bed, but it’s a fairly small part of the problem. If we are to generate real customer value, this is where the purpose and mission for the brand come from,” says Calverley.

“That’s where we start to go, ‘how do we fulfil that in a much more powerful way’, which inherently will mean you hopefully will be more willing to buy a mattress off us because we’re about more than flogging you a mattress.”

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