Feldmann rests on mattress laurels

Retail expert Shirley Feldmann with stuffed Serta sheep promoted in one of the spots

Retail expert Shirley Feldmann spent five months producing and directing one of the biggest retail broadcast campaigns that’s proving to be one of the advertisers’ most successful.

The now-airing American Mattress commercials are also representative of how Ch. 2 and local TV stations are bundling spot production with time buys to improve their profit.

Freelance spotmaker Feldmann has a track record with Ch. 2 and its American Mattress client since 2001. The 2003 campaign, is their biggest ? with 26 spots in all, four principals and 30 extras — and the most high-end, shot in 24P.

The “For comfort and a good night’s sleep” campaign, 18 spots are promotional and event-oriented, such as grand opening sales. Eight are branding messages “delivering sales points to differentiate American Mattress from competitors,” said Feldmann, who wrote the copy, and whose retail expertise is backed by seven years of helming Homemaker furniture commercials through three owners.

Since American Mattress is an exclusive Serta distributor, one spot ties in national Serta’s animated sheep campaign; a traffic-generating, stuffed sheep give-away promotion.

During the earlier campaigns, Feldman, American Mattress president Scott Michelsen and Ch. 2 account executive Brian Golinvaux and sales production manager Phil Wolf had brainstormed on ways to bring the spots up to the next level. Feldmann took on the creative strategy last September.

“The clients wanted the quality of film but their budget was a consideration,” she said. The obvious solution was to shoot in HD. Seeing the comparison demonstration by Tom Fletcher at Fletcher Chicago, the clients were sold on 24P.

Different this year, too, was the use of four on-camera actors who each represented a demographics segment of American Mattress customers.

Production began last November, “a week of long days shooting on location in a house in Roselle,” Feldmann said. “We were lucky because one of the company partners owned this fabulous house and it worked for many of our scenes.” Two stores were also location sites.

Another week in mid-January was spent editing with Ch. 2’s Smoke editor Robert Thompson, a former freelancer now a Ch. 2 staffer. Ch. 2’s Abel Sanchez was the animation designer, Michael Knott the graphic artist. Expert HD shooter Dave Seman was the cameraman. Voiceover was Bill Cochran.

The budget is hard to pinpoint, Feldmann stated, “since Ch. 2 absorbed so many of the costs, and part of them were wrapped into the media buy. Commercials are a part of a bigger picture to give clients more for their money.”

The spots began airing in late January mostly on Ch. 2, but also on Chs. 5, 7 and 9 and PAX cable. They also run in Houston and in Indianapolis as new stores open there.

Fletcher provided the HD equipment; Post Effects handled the down conversions and pulled images for print ads. Kate Mattsen’s K.T.’s Talent Co. cast actors Robert Buscemi who portrays a business man, Kimm Beavers, as an African American doctor, John O’Leksy, a blue collar worker, Sandi Litt as the Hispanic super mom.

At Feldmann’s recommendation, the familiar jingle was rearranged by Jon Lindenberg “to give it more of an Americana feeling,” she said.

What helped produce the effective campaign was the client’s trust in Feldmann’s, Golinvaux and Wolf’s recommendations. “That enabled us to do such a good job,” she added. “The client was really wonderful to work with and that always helps.”

After four years working for small niche production companies, Feldmann opted for freelancing in 1989 and started Feldmann’s Flicks as a writing and production source. The late Paul Robinson, who’d had the Homemakers account for 30 years (and cast Shelley Long as Homemakers’ spokesperson) hired Feldmann as an associate producer in 1990.

When Robinson died, Feldmann took Homemakers over until 1997 when advertising was brought in-house by third owner Helig-Meyers. Another of her freelance projects was writing and producing radio promos for the Danny Bonaduce show, “Danny!” produced in Chicago.

Shirley Feldmann’s at 773/348-0742. See www.feldmannsflicks.com.