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Volume 26 No. 62
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Mattress Company Sleep Number Signs New Sponsorship With NFL

The NFL today will take the wraps off its newest corporate sponsor, Minneapolis-based high-end mattress marketer Sleep Number. This marks the league's first sponsorship deal in the mattress category. As part of the deal, Sleep Number gets designation as the official sleep and wellness partner of the league, and all current NFL players will get Sleep Number 360 “smart beds,” which sell for around $2,000 each. The company will work with NFL players, teams and trainers to integrate sleep insights into their training. The deal is more than a bit of tech play -- Sleep Number, which has more than 550 retail locations, introduced a bed at the recent CES show it said could warn of impending heart attacks and predict sleep apnea. Terms could not be learned, but a source said it was for a minimum of three years and in the high seven figures per year. The league has been working on the deal for more than a year. After a season in which the NFL was assailed for player protests during the national anthem, along with ratings declines for the second consecutive year, closing a sponsorship in a new category can only be considered a triumph. “Brands considering NFL deals have told us they didn’t want to be the ones to break the ice,” said one sales source. “So for the NFL to get a new sponsor now is significant.” As sleeping has moved to the forefront as a health and wellness issue, marketing in the mattress business has exploded. Patriots QB Tom Brady did a rare TV ad for Simmons/Beautyrest in '16, while Sleep Number (formerly Select Comfort) is a Super Bowl LII Host Committee sponsor and has team deals with the Cowboys and Vikings. Elsewhere in the category, retailer Mattress Firm has been buying up regional chains, and with more than 3,500 stores, is now the nation’s biggest mattress retailer. While noting she had no knowledge of the new NFL deal, Mattress Firm VP/Marketing for the Northeast Christine Brown said that category competition has reached unprecedented levels, fueled by new competition from electronics retailers and online mattress brands like Casper. “The category dynamics are changing, and getting more competitive, so everyone’s looking for new ways to brand,” said Brown, whose company has sponsorships with the Falcons and Texans. Bedgear, which positions itself as a “performance bedding” company, has deals with the Celtics, Red Sox, Mavericks, Broncos and N.Y. Marathon.