he startup that made mattresses interesting again. There are now over 150 ‘mattress in a box’ companies, though Casper still market leader. They weren’t the first brand to modernize this space, but they were the first with ads people admired on the subway. That’s thanks to creative agency Red Antler (who are also behind Brandless, Allbirds and Birchbox), who worked with Casper on a cash plus equity deal, which their founder says typically costs between $150,000 and $500,000. It’ll be fun to see how they leverage those premium creative assets on Facebook.
If you’d like to download all of the ads featured in this post, we’ve made them available in this google drive folder, as part of our Facebook ads library resource. All ad examples come from the Facebook ads library tool.
What did we learn?
Casper’s unique visual style also translates well to Facebook—the assets always looked premium, clean and inviting. The biggest standout was the tone of voice: there were many sleep-based jokes and puns which is (unfortunately) rare in ads. Their cool animals video just wins the internet, but they also have the standard discount ads like the rest of us. Just like Uber, we can see that Casper is spending on social issues, and they use an interesting PR tactic.
If you’re interested in Facebook ads (if you’re reading this article, I presume you are!) then you might want to take a look at Spotlight. It uses machine learning to see what’s IN your images and text, then automatically show you what’s driving performance.
Get Comfy With The Sleep Puns
Man do Casper love their sleep puns! This is one of the key things that stands out for them; I don’t see many other mattress brands (or many other brands in general) getting away with consistent use of humour like this across all of their branded assets.
They even rebranded a whole month to make a sleep joke. The imagery is top class for these ads, and the overlay of the custom “Sleptember” icon makes it look very premium. There’s no mistake this is a serious company. It is possible to miss though that this is a labor day sale ad.
This image does a lot better at making the extended Labor Day sale the important part of the message. The sleep jokes “need 5 more minutes” and “we’ve got you covered” work really well in this context, and the product is front and center in the image.
The ads are very visually appealing and they do stand out. The blue and white box standing against a pink background grabs attention, makes you wonder what’s inside. The date the sale ends (top right) looks like the label you get on your mattress—it’s these small details that count.
The jokes do get a little grating to me after a while, but as marketers we have to remember the average customer only sees a handful of these ads, and we’re not the average customer. This ad in particular doesn’t seem to have a purpose other than reminding people that Casper is all about the sleep jokes.
This for me is an example of the ad serving the humor rather than the humor serving the ad. It departs from the consistency around sleep jokes, and references a conspiracy theory that Facebook is listening to your conversations. When brands try to get in on these types of jokes it almost always falls flat.
Puzzles To Push Virality
This campaign does seem to have worked — they got a lot of press and some of these posts got hundreds of comments and shares. It is a smart use of offline placement too: what else are you going to do when sitting bored on the subway?
They were also pretty clever with the way they set these ads up in the carousel format. Telling users to ‘swipe right’ will juice their engagement and trick the Facebook algorithm into showing the ad to more people. I do wonder though if just showing the puzzle itself will lead to more people solving it—I couldn’t see any a/b tests of this nature.
I feel like this all feels a little bit engineered though. Casper is a premium brand and tricking people in swiping on a carousel and comment the answers to a puzzle just feels a bit wrong for them. Funnily enough, despite all of the thought that went into engineering these puzzles, when you visit this campaign’s page from any other country than the United States, you get a 404.
Animals Win The Internet
This might be the perfect social ad campaign. Cute animals? ✔️ Premium video? ✔️ Value proposition? ✔️. It seems they just put a lot of cute animals on their mattresses and positioned their product as a solution to keep your pets cool.
The video is really well done. It grabs attention with the cute pets, then lands all of the core product value propositions in less than 15 seconds. The obvious connection is that if it can keep your pets cool, it can keep you cool too. Delivering this message through the animals makes it feel less salesy and more believable, as well as grabbing attention. The 35,000 5-star reviews in the link description really seals the deal.
I thought this might be a study, so I clicked through, but weirdly the campaign just links through to their normal landing page, no mention of animals. I would have thought after all of the money they spent on this shoot they could have at least made a matching page?
New Product Line Extension
Speaking of animals, their new product line extension heavily features their dog bed. This makes sense — if you can make mattresses for humans you can make them for dogs too. Many people spend more money on their dogs than they do on themselves, so this is likely a lucrative category to move into.
I’m not sure if people really know what a ‘sleep brand’ is though; maybe dial back the marketing speak on that one! Another product line that came up frequently was the Casper Glow, a bedside lamp designed for better sleep. This is a little more of a stretch — what does a mattress company know about making lamps?
However the product looks good, and given the strength of Casper’s brand combined with the credibility of a Wall St Journal write-up, this is definitely a product a lot of people will check out. Extending into a new product line can be risky for a brand, but it can be a very high margin opportunity given the intensity of competition in Casper’s core market of mattresses.
Press Promotion Post Tactic
The Wall St Journal article wasn’t the only one of that type. It seems that Casper has found success with promoting other articles they’ve been featured in too. This can be a great way to leverage the good PR your brand has to build credibility.
The great thing about these types of ads is that they are more believable. First you have the strength of the publication (just being featured wins you points) then you have the quotes from people who don’t work for your company, telling consumers how good you are in an authentic way. The one downside of this type of ad is it’s hard to track and optimize to conversion. I recommend you try something like Snip.ly links to overlay a call to action on the article page.
Buzzfeed-Style Listicle Content Promos
Press isn’t the only content Casper is promoting. They also push some of their articles like “5 Tips for Sleeping Better wIth Your Partner”. I wouldn’t expect these posts to drive direct conversions but I imagine Casper puts this under brand budget to keep themselves top of mind on any topic related to sleep.
The Listicle format popularized by BuzzFeed does tend to work quite well in terms of content engagement as it’s easy to process and infinitely shareable. They use this in multiple areas, as with the “5 Tips for Stress-Free Moving”. You can see this isn’t directly related to sleep, though I imagine one of the biggest trigger moments for people buying mattresses is when they move.
The content itself is well written and useful, easy to engage with and I imagine it does well against their content marketing goals, which is why they probably decided to promote it. There are very prominent call to actions across the blog so it’s likely they do get some direct sales form this also, even if that isn’t the main goal.
Unrelated Charitable Causes
It’s really great to see Casper promoting charitable causes, and unlike Uber, it feels a lot less self-serving. The ad is driving traffic straight to the ALZ.org website, and don’t even mention the company at all. In fact, my issue here is maybe that the ads aren’t self-serving enough. Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease that deserves more awareness and funding… but what does it have to do with sleep?
It’s really strange for a company that has gone to such lengths to define their brand and tone of voice, to support a charity completely unconnected to their mission and reason to exist. The same goes for the homelessness ads they’re running. There is more of a sleep angle for homelessness than Alzheimer’s, but they don’t use it. They talk about foster care and don’t say anything about sleep.
This isn’t just me being a cynical capitalist — Casper are sleep experts. They spend probably millions of dollars understanding sleep. They produce hundreds of pieces of content all about sleep. Why are they not leveraging this expertise and brand to make an impact on sleep-related issues (like Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), in the same way they’re leveraging it to extend their product lines? You have to imagine it’d be more impactful.
Standard Promo Code Discount Ad
After seeing Casper rebrand the month of September, run high end animal ads and promote charitable causes, it’s actually kind of reassuring to see they still run the standard promo code ads that always perform. If you were a new mattress company with a limited budget, this is the one ad I advise you to run.
The image is great because it shows the product unboxing, it has a cute kid in it which grabs attention, and it has a very prominent social proof message at the top. Of course not every company can be the #1 Rated Mattress, but most companies have at least 1 thing they can say to build credibility—key investors, press mentions, good testimonials, cheapest, best quality… all of these things are good fuel for A/B testing. That was one thing I was disappointed not to see however; Casper was running a few different ad variations, but I didn’t see evidence they were systematically testing each element. For them, Facebook seems to be more of a branding exercise than a performance channel, and that’s ok—but maybe it’s a missed opportunity.
If you’d like to download all of the ads in this post, they’re located in this google drive folder for this blog post, in our Facebook ads library, categorized by section. All ad examples come from the Facebook ads library tool.
Now that you’ve finished reading, I’m sure you’ll be inspired to run more tests of your own. When you’re testing at least 3-5 ads per week, you need a tool like Spotlight to help you get insights into the plus or minus factors driving creative performance.