Serta Launches First Creative Review in 17 Years, with Incumbent Doner Sitting Out

By Erik Oster Comment

Mattress-maker Serta has issued an RFP seeking a new creative agency of record, and longtime incumbent Doner will not be defending its account. Two sources close to the agency confirmed that the review has begun and that Doner (whose Detroit office handles the business) declined to participate.

An MDC Partners representative deferred to the client for comment today. We have yet to hear back from Serta.

Serta named Doner as its creative agency of record back in December of 1999 and subsequently introduced the animated sheep that have come to define the brand. In 2015, the agency played off the sheep concept with a campaign claiming the Serta Perfect Sleeper is “so comfortable you’ll never count sheep again.”

The specific reasons for the review are unclear at this time, but several big changes have come to the business during its partnership with Doner. In 2009, Serta’s parent company acquired Simmons to form the world’s largest mattress company, and three years later private equity firm Advent International bought a majority interest in what was then called Serta Simmons.

The brand’s ad spend declined in recent years. The account’s value was estimated at $20 million when Doner first won, but U.S. measured media totals dropped to $15 million last year. That’s down from $18 million in 2015, according to Kantar Media.

This year, however, has seen a big surge: the company spent more than $35 million on paid ads in the first quarter of 2017 alone. Kantar’s estimates attribute most of this dramatically larger total to print placements in U.S. magazines and newspapers.

Doner Detroit laid off approximately 3 percent of its total staff this month. It’s unclear how much of that was related to the loss of the Serta business and how much was tied to Minute Maid, which went to Anomaly.

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