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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 Company.

Serta Sheep

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 campaigns.

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).

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