“Mind over Mattress” – A Marketing Genius Who Never Takes Himself Too Seriously

Just last week I took a walk down Pearse Street for a small experiment in marketing, I decided to stop 3 different people from varying backgrounds and look for directions to “Michael Flynn’s Mattress Store”.

As expected, I was met with a range of responses from confusion to someone providing me with blatantly incorrect directions in the hope that I would leave them to go on their merry way, which I graciously did. Then I made a decision to change tactic, I asked the next 3 people I met “By any chance do you know where I can find Mattress Mick’s?”.

“Don’t be afraid of people laughing at you”, the people who laugh at you will be the ones filling your car up with petrol when you pull into a petrol station”

A beaming smile crossed each and every one of the three’s faces and they delightfully pointed me 100 yards down the road on the left, one kind elderly lady even offered to accompany me on the visit.

Mattress Mick - Guerrilla Marketing

For us here at FUTURE PROOF MEDIA, Mattress Mick is a pioneer and inspiration of ours. A fearless & strategic marketer with his finger on the pulse and never had too much pride to put himself out there.

Mattress Mick has been trailblazer in the Irish Digital Marketing scene long before videos of Grant Cardone, Gary Vee & Tony Robbins made it to Emerald Isle. But the question still lingers whether he is serious. About his business he absolutely is, but that won’t stop him having as much fun as possible.

We’ve previously explored the use of Brand Ambassadors (https://www.futureproofmedia.ie/2019/07/23/how-the-perfect-ambassador-could-transform-your-brand/), Mattress Mick’s creativity has resulted in he himself being the most powerful Brand Ambassador around.

Where It All Began

When looking at the story of Mattress Mick, resilience and perseverance is commonplace amongst the main protagonists. But above all is creativity and fun.

The Mattress Mick character is the brainchild of Flynn and his comrade Paul Kelly, who were both down on their luck as a result of Ireland’s economic crisis. They crossed paths in The Yacht in Clontarf and as Flynn told during his interview with the Irish Times in 2014:

“I was doodling in the Yacht when I came up with the concept of Mattress Mick. And then this guy I knew, Paul Kelly, came over to me in the Yacht one night, and said: ‘You’re Michael Flynn. We’ll do a video and put it up on YouTube.’ ” – Link

Flynn has always been in and around the Dublin furniture trade, at one point boasting 8 stores across Dublin including Capel Street, his native Coolock and Bachelor’s Walk to name a few. But for one reason or another, as times got tough, unfortunately his business entered liquidation. Not one to sit around and feel sorry for himself, Flynn already had his rebound strategy in place.

Beds and Mattresses had always accounted for the largest proportion of his trade so he decided to double-down on what he knew most. There was no other dedicated Beds & Mattress store in Ireland at the time as there was in the U.K. and he saw how strongly they were performing. Unfortunately, similarly to the rest of the country, he was low on capital, so he had to do something different…

Enter Paul Kelly.

Mattress Mick - Guerrilla Marketing

Kelly, who runs Shoot Audition Studio has spent his life behind the camera, and now in an ironic twist, his efforts behind the camera have catapulted him into the eye of the public. He was also hugely impacted by the recession which is documented in intimate detail in the “Mattress Men’ documentary directed by Colm Quinn. Paul now does all the recording and social media management for the Mattress Mick brand, something we will dig deeper into as we go through this blog.

At face value, there would be no opportunity for overlap or collaboration between the pair but their whole story is centred around spotting an opportunity and through creativity, innovation & clever marketing, making it work.

In devising Mattress Mick, they were the created the perfect vehicle for brewing up a storm on social media, long before it became the norm to do so. Even still, nobody could have projected the impact that the Mattress Mick phenomenon would have on Dublin.

High Impact Branding & Marketing

As Mick mentions in his candid interview with Fellow Passengers (give it a listen, if you haven’t already), a combination of cost-effectiveness, his long hair and self-proclaimed “peculiar look”, he decided to move forward with himself as the character as opposed to a cartoon or an actor. So he himself became the face of the brand. To the untrained eye, the branding looks like something from a 1960’s US car salesman, making people think he isn’t moving with the times, but that’s exactly what he wants you to think!

Mattress Mick - Guerrilla Marketing

Over The Top Design

In a very deliberate and tactful approach, Flynn has made it near impossible pass any of the Mattress Mick stores on Pearse Street, Coolock, Naas Road, Tyrrellstown or Drogheda without it catching the eye and naturally wondering “what on earth could going on in there?”. The bright yellow with the red contrast captures attention against any background.

All imagery, fonts and brand assets in general follow this trend and with his incomparable consistency in content output. Big and Bold is what people expect and it would almost upset people if a plain or bland poster or billboard was put out.

Mattress Mick - Guerrilla

Taglines With a Twist

For us here at FUTURE PROOF, we always try to be different, clever and find alternative ways for our clients to draw attention and promote their brand. One thing that we’ve always admired about the Mattress Mick brand was the ability to consistently come up with new phrases, taglines or a catchy play on words that will endear any audience

We could spend all day listing the strokes of genius that are prevalent throughout, whether it’s his iconic “The Mattress Prizefighter” or the Title theme of this article “Mind over Mattress”, the remarkable ability of the team over at Mattress Mick’s to consistently stay ahead and stay topical is impressive to say the least.

Additional Characters Gaining Worldwide Attention

It’s not all a two-man show, Kelly and Flynn have brought on-board some help in the form of Brian “The Mattress Man” Traynor, who has become a global sensation whether it’s dancing around the Artane Roundabout or on Toronto News channel CP 24 alongside Colm Quinn, director of “Mattress Men”.

Mattress Mick - Guerrilla Marketing

Marketing His Message Out There

As mentioned, cash flow wasn’t exactly prominent in Dublin during the downturn, so Mick had to be clever about how he got his message around. Mick pioneered what is known as “Guerrilla Marketing” and still employs these tactics to this day.

But what is Guerrilla Marketing?

“Guerrilla Marketing is an advertising strategy that focuses on low-cost unconventional marketing tactics that yield maximum results. It is often ideal for small businesses that need to reach a large audience without breaking the bank” – fits the bill, right?

Building Mass Awareness With a Traditional Marketing

Mick began by plastering his posters everywhere across Dublin, he would put them up on Shopfronts, Lampposts you name it. Often generating quite a bit of backlash from Dublin City Council and landlords as a result. However, the back lash never deterred him, and as he told the guys from Fellow Passengers:

I never paid one fine, not one fine”

As a result, Flynn mentioned that 2 of the judges he stood in front of to defend himself, ultimately purchased beds from him and the councilmen who were dealing with the huge number of posters he put up also even came into his store to buy beds.

Mattress Mick - Guerrilla

Not Your Ordinary Oout-Of-Home Marketing!

Mick’s first foray into the Billboard scene was, true to form, unavoidable. He put up a huge “Mock Election” style Billboard up at the 5 Lamps Corner of Dublin’s North Strand, without permission. Eventually after some back-and-forth with the landlord he was let keep it up, whatever the cost of the billboard, it has managed to pay itself back sevenfold with the media coverage that it has garnered nationally & internationally.

Off the back of the billboard RTE saw it and featured him in their annual Christmas Advertisement which catapulted him to a national scale. Catherine Lynch of Wagon’s Den spotted his billboard and couldn’t resist but to have the adorable Mattress Salesman on where he appeared, mattress in hand, and performed like a seasoned pro.

The billboard also got him slots with Ray Darcy and numerous other broadcasters across the nation.

Mattress Mick rose the international prominence when Stephen Fry who was in Dublin filming his latest movie at the time “Love and Friendship” when he spotted Mick’s billboard while travelling down Amiens Street. Fry was clearly captivated by the billboard and the character behind the billboard. Fry’s following on Twitter at the time was roughly 8 million million in size, that kind of reach for a Mattress Salesman in Dublin? Unheard of.

In terms of paid media, to get this kind of coverage you would be working up bills well into the tens of thousands but what was the cost to Mattress Mick? It was free!

At FUTURE PROOF MEDIA, we strongly believe in using outside the box initiatives to get national coverage. We always aim to generate national coverage for your brand in cost-effective and creative ways. Similarly, to an inspiration of his, Mattress Mick is able to create such topical conversations that media outlets pay staff to cover him as opposed to the traditional paid advertising.

Have You Seen His Car?

One of our favourite aspects of PR here at FUTURE PROOF MEDIA is the use of clever stunts that generate coverage. If performed in the right way a PR stunt can be hugely impactful. They do not always have to be large scale, in the mould of Paddy Power, they can often be small and subtle and still generate effective publicity.

Mattress Mick and his branded fleet of vans for delivery & a single car that he uses purely for advertising purposes are synonymous across Dublin. Mick strategically moves them around Dublin and parks them up as advertising. You can be sure that they will be parked in a clever place that has mass amounts of footfall.

By Mick’s own admission it gives the impression that there’s multiple cars on the road, when in fact it’s just him moving a single car around. As he told the lads on Fellow Passengers. By Flynn’s logic, if he parks the car in a loading bay on South William Street on Saturday night just before 7pm, that allows him to leave it there until Sunday night.

In the piece done by Dublin.ie, Mick openly admits “We want to break the rules”. Which I suppose is a perfect moment to let you know that on occasion the car doesn’t always get collected…

Mick was also rumoured to be making an appearance on Britain’s Got Talent, only for a dispute related to the song rights of his infamous “Back with a Bang” to scupper the deal.

PR Stunts are a powerful way and unique way to get attention, and the big thing to remember when employing this tactic is to always be different!

Dominating Digital Marketing

The nest egg in the Mattress Mick marketing strategy is his multi-faceted approach to Social Media. To this very day you’ll hear influencers in the Digital Marketing space preach and preach until they are blue in the face about creating video content. Mattress Mick has been pushing video content since day dot, and to great effect also.

With the boom of Social Media, it is now almost impossible to think of a time when we didn’t see ads in between every Facebook post or Instagram story. But there was a time when marketing on Social Media was in its infancy and to say Flynn and Kelly made hay while the sun was shining would be an understatement.

Working together to produce a clever suite of completely unrehearsed hilarious, bordering on the ridiculous video content Mattress Mick took over our Social Media feeds and our hearts. The videos are purposely raw and lightly edited, with the ad-libs and mistakes included to make the videos more relatable.

As Dublin.ie wrote from their piece on Mick:

“This is how they decided to leave in the mistakes, to keep the ad-libs, and keep things generally unpolished. And so a style developed – “People can relate to the mistakes” says Mick. And relate they did.”

You could spend hours trawling through the video content that’s been put up on YouTube but we will focus in on the jewel in his video content crown and that is his hit single “Back With a Bang”. Queue Mick stepping out from the Delorean and we will let the video speak for itself.

The video was released against the backdrop of budget day here in Ireland where Brendan Howlin, then minister for finance announced that Ireland itself was “Back with a Bang”.

The Mattress Mick team are renowned for their impeccable timing, their ability to find some dimension of current affairs and spin it into a marketing play for mattresses is second to none. Whether it’s pushing out content playing on the current local and European elections, offering a mattress to Donald Trump for his visit to Ireland, or exchanging a back and forth with a certain Conor McGregor on Twitter, Mattress Mick never misses a trick.

Mattress Mick’s videos generate a huge amount of user interaction with comments professing their need to call in and visit the man in the flesh. But no content that you push will be without its detractors. However, Mick manages his detractors in typical Mattress Mick fashion, where you have one person taking time out of their day to post a “What a Plonker” style comment you will find Mattress Mick’s response professing “I am a legend” or my personal favourite “For You I Would Recommend a Waterproof Mattress”.

As he professes himself:

“Don’t be afraid of people laughing at you”, the people who laugh at you will be the ones filling your car up with petrol when you pull into a petrol station”

Content marketing is something that FUTURE PROOF always propose to our clients, it is not easy, there’s a lot of work involved and there’s a lot of fear and trepidation towards venturing into that side of things. The cost is minimal, the impact is huge and the reward even more so.

The Mattress Mick character and Social Media campaign has been the perfect cocktail of creativity, relentless consistency, perfect timing and most importantly a type relatability that breaks down barriers. As a result, Mick is the face of Bed and Mattress sales in Dublin. As a result of the campaign Mick has legitimized his brand, broadcast his knowledge and built a trust with the people of Dublin so now when people think of Mattresses, they think of Mattress Mick.

Giving Back To The Local Community

For Mick and his team, it is not all about sales, they are renowned within Dublin for the work they’ve done for charitable causes. And the man himself may not like me saying this but his efforts from a Corporate Social Responsibility aspect only serve to strengthen his brand and build sentiment within his target market.

Some of the causes that Mick and his team have supported include:

“Home Sweet Home – Apollo House”

In an amazing show of generosity Mick contributed 40 beds to support the Home Sweet Home to help bring awareness to a cause that raised far over €200K in funds to help tackle the homeless crisis

School Visits:

Mick regularly visits schools to give talks about pursuing your dreams and never being afraid to fail. He has a huge issue with the nature of the people of Ireland not to accept failures. It is O’Flynn’s intention to change this and to teach the youth of Ireland about resilience and how he was able to bounce back:

“My Business Failed but I’m not a failure”

Marie Keating Foundation:

In 2017, Mattress Mick partnered with the Marie Keating Foundation to help provide money for their comfort fund. Which helps families that are struggling financially due to cancer. Mattress Mick pledged €5 per online mattress sale with the intention to generate enough funds to help 12 families by the end of 2017. As was shared by Honest Mattress Reviews in their 2017 piece

“There’s hardly a single family in Ireland who isn’t affected by cancer, including my own, so we’re so glad to be doing our part to help fight the disease.”

Patriotic Branding & Marketing:

Mattress Mick is a proud Dub and Irishman, who consistently provides back to the community but that even comes into his business model. When it could be more profitable to import more cost-effective mattresses from abroad, Mick stays true to his values and in order to do his part to help create jobs here in Ireland he sells Irish made mattresses.

“88% of people are more likely to buy from a company that supports & engages in activities to improve society” – (Link)

In 2019, it is commonplace to see brands aligning with charities, which as it has been proven will experience a huge increase in buyer sentiment ultimately driving sales. What we recommend at FUTURE PROOF is to make sure that you align with the right cause and make sure that you can bring a meaningful value to whatever it is that you get involved in. The results from a brand perspective are one thing, but the rewarding nature of giving back to those in need is what will really last.

Award Winning Documentary – Mattress Men

Mattress Mick’s finest hour in marketing came in the form of the “Mattress Men” documentary. A documentary was initially intended to be a short 10-15 minute film but that plan was hastily parked when the potential of the project was seen by director Colm Quinn.

After a very intimate and I’d imagine tough 3 year process the final product was a fascinating look at the key protagonists in the culmination of this larger than life character that we’ve all come to know and love. While one might be fooled into assuming that the documentary was in-line with the theme of all his content, it was actually a fascinating insight into the trials and tribulations of what life is actually like running a business and scraping to survive after a crippling recession. The documentary really delves into some very personal topics, but it makes the characters much more real only serves to endear you to those involved all the more. It is well-worth a watch and you can find a link to view it here.

The documentary has been a resounding success, with the team winning an IFTA award and was premiered at the Hot Docs festival (North America’s largest documentary festival).

Mattress Mick - Guerrilla

“Mattress Men” is a timeless piece of marketing content that brings the viewer in and brings the characters to their sitting rooms in an incomparable way. People now see who is behind the character, the motivations and thought process behind it, the effort gone into making it and also what goes into maintaining it.

Conclusion

In conclusion of this ode to Mattress Mick and the group of marketing pioneers who were so far ahead of their time that people probably didn’t even label it as a marketing campaign. What we’ve learned is to always persevere, be creative and as Flynn himself says “Have the guts to put yourself out there”

Mattress Mick, the undisputed the King of Mattress Land.

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