Serta Counting Sheep
- Fluffy flock of adorable but unemployed white
sheep with numbers painted on their sides that
appeared in a series of successful mattress
commercials sponsored by the Serta Mattress
The reason the sheep are unemployed is that
Serta Mattresses makes such comfortable products
that more and more people are finding it easy to
fall asleep quickly at night, Consequently, the
old practice of counting sheep to put oneself to
sleep is falling to the wayside. Now, in search
of new jobs the sheep wander the countryside
looking for a new gig.
- Ad #1: In the first ad in the series "Serta: Counting Sheep" a sleeping man is
awakened by a strange noise. Looking out of his bedroom window the man sees a
flock of sheep outside. They look in the man's direction and a spokes-sheep for
the group shouts "Hey! It's ten o'clock...Ten thirty-eight. Want us to put you
to sleep?" The man informs his wife, "It's the counting sheep." but she just
rolls over in bed, pulls back the sheets to reveal a Serta label on their
mattress. "Didn't you tell them we got a Serta?" "Did she say Serta?" asked the
sheep. "Yeah." The husband replies, "It's so comfortable, we don't need you
anymore." Disappointment fills the faces of all the sheep upon hearing the word
"Serta." Just then, a nearby neighbor opens his window and says "Hey! Keep it
down over there. I can't sleep a wink!" Happy again, the sheep move in the
direction of the neighbor's house with smiles on their faces.
- AD #2: Another Counting Sheep spot finds the sheep approaching a clinic for
Insomniacs. Satisfied they have finally found a new home, the sheep are
horrified when a truck filled with Serta Mattresses pulls up in front of the
clinic. Collectively the sheep cry "NOOOO!"
- AD #3: In still another Serta Perfect Sleeper commercial "Penalty," a sheep says
"Serta makes me so mad, I'd like to rip that mattress apart." He controls his
anger, but another sheep rips off the do-not-remove-under-penalty-of-law label
on the mattress and the sheep are arrested. When they arrive in prison, someone
asks "What are you in for?" A sheep begins to answer "We got caught tearing..."
but another sheep interrupts him and continues "...Tearing a man to pieces? GRRR!"
Newer commercials entitled "Squeegee", "Hobo", "Contract" and "Spies" also
appeared on US and Canadian television. They combined animation with live-action
and followed the sheep as they seek alternative ways to make a living. Serta
also produced 60-second radio spots. In one spot entitled “Dewey and Helen” the
sheep plead with a couple to keep their job. In another entitled “Stan” a sheep
and a loyal customer talk on the telephone.
In 2002, Serta Inc. won a Gold EFFIE Award for their Counting Sheep Commercials (Category: Household Furnish and
Appliance Award). The ads were created by the Detroit, Michigan-based W.B. Doner
& Co. Ad agency. The Effie award is presented annually by the New York American
Marketing Association in recognition of the year's most effective advertising
To capitalize on their successful ad campaign, Serta, Inc sponsored
"The Adopt a Serta Counting Sheep Contest." The Grand Prize: an eight day, seven
night dream vacation to New Zealand, to the ultimate land of sheep (there are
more sheep there than people). The contest rules were to write a message to the
unemployed sheep either to the flock as a whole or to an individually numbered
sheep and offer some message of consolation about their plight.
The Serta Sheep became so popular that the Serta company merchandised cuddly
plush sheep dolls on their internet site (credit card purchase only}. Each sheep
was identified by their own special numbers (#1, 8, 13, 29 & 70).
The sheep in the Counting Sheep commercials were filmed by the Bristol-based Aardman
Animations, the same firm used by British animator Nick Park who created the
popular stop-action animation characters Wallace and Gromit in the early 1990s
and the prison escape spoof film Chicken Run (2000).