Sleep associations seek PR assistance

WASHINGTON: The Better Sleep Council (BSC) and two of its sister associations are in the midst of an expansive search for a new firm - and a new director of communications - to handle all their PR, including a $1 million-a-year education campaign.

WASHINGTON: The Better Sleep Council (BSC) and two of its sister associations are in the midst of an expansive search for a new firm - and a new director of communications - to handle all their PR, including a $1 million-a-year education campaign.

All three associations, which include the International Sleep Products Association (ISPA) and the Sleep Products Safety Council, have used Ogilvy PR as their AOR for nearly a decade. But the recent death of ISPA VP for communications Andrea Herman, as well as the arrival of new president Dick Doyle, prompted a review of all communications activity.

"Ogilvy has done a very nice job for our organizations over the past eight years," Doyle said, "but it's just prudent after that length of time to take a step back and assess the capabilities of various firms."

The three organizations, which work together to represent bedding manufacturers and their suppliers, began the search early this year, sending out questionnaires to about 15 firms in order to gauge their capabilities. Six of those firms, including Ogilvy, will soon receive RFPs.

InHouse Communications, led by president Helen Sullivan, has been helping in the search.

The lion's share of the RFP, according to Sullivan, will be for the nearly 20-year-old general-education campaign run by the BSC - an effort that these days relies on very little advertising. "The campaign encourages people to make the connection between a good night's sleep and what they're sleeping on," explained Sullivan. "The more people are aware of the importance of sleep, the more they will be predisposed to invest in what they're sleeping on. If you look at the nearly 20-year history of the BSC, you'll see they have been responsible for putting sleep on the minds of a lot of editors," she added.

As evidence of the campaign's long-term impact, Doyle offered data showing that consumers have been buying new mattresses with increasing regularity since the campaign began - down from once every 12 years to once every 10.8 years.

Mickey Mall, SVP and head of the three accounts at Ogilvy, expressed both optimism and understanding in the face of the review. "It's natural after so many years with us and a change in leadership," he offered. "We're excited at being part of the process."

Meanwhile, the hunt for a new communications director goes on alongside the agency search. The hire will run the communications functions for all three organizations, as well as work with any outside firm.

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