P067: I, For One, Welcome Our New Mattress Marketing Overlords

Because you’ve listened to a podcast besides Serial, you understand that there exists a company that sells mattresses online that by all (paid) reports are pretty great. You select your size, pay a large-but-lower-than-retail price and they ship you a dorm-fridge-sized box that somehow contains your mattress. You open the box and notice a polite request to share the next part on social media, you know, if you want. You carefully open the vacuum-sealed inner bag and your mattress emerges from its cocoon and assumes the expected shape. Because this is your first time seeing the mattress in person, you have 100 days to decide if you want to keep it. You get tired of writing in the second person and decide get to the point.

As a podcast enthusiast, I have become intimately familiar with Casper and can rattle off their pitch and promise at will. It’s the world’s most useless party trick but it’s the product of an extremely effective marketing campaign (see also: qz, mw, bf). And because of Casper’s continued support of podcasts I enjoy, I’m highly likely to consider them at my next mattress-purchasing occasion.

So it was not very surprising when Elizabeth Spiers (previously: Gawker, Observer, Flavor Media, etc.) announced a couple weeks ago that she was hiring writers for a new web publication about sleep, sponsored by Casper. Before you roll your eyes, let me assure you that content marketing is A Thing even if the Wall Street Journal puts “air quotes” around it in this doddering attempt to pretend that they are somehow above the fray:

This type of “content marketing” is in vogue. Instead of “renting” audiences with paid advertising, companies are increasingly producing their own content in an effort to attract consumers’ attention themselves, with the ultimate goal of promoting their brands, products, interests and ideas.

Yes, that’s the WSJ house style doing the hands-in-ears, “LALALA WE CAN’T HEAR YOU” move on their CMO Today blog. Content marketing is in vogue, now get off my lawn, you crazy kids!

We live in a world where BuzzFeed is both the Future of News and the End of Journalism, where the most compelling parts get cut from an NPR news story and shared on the reporter’s personal Tumblr, where innovative form just isn’t enough anymore. Of course you’re going to get your news about sleep from a mattress company. Embrace the future.

Periodically yours,

Bob Sherron