Josh Jacobs, the Oakland Raiders rookie running back, will play a starring role at MediaPost’s TV & Video Insider Summit in Montauk this month.
No, the former member of Alabama’s Crimson Tide isn’t stopping by while he’s in town to play the New York Giants or Jets.
Rather, Josie Warren, senior content producer at Sleep Number, will showcase a three-part branded content series featuring Jacobs and will discuss what it was like to work with this “nice young man, who has a truly compelling story,” not to mention being the first player selected at his position during the 2019 NFL Draft.
The Jacobs relationship emanates from Sleep Number’s position as the official Sleep & Wellness Partner of the NFL, as well as a subsequent partnership with its players association. More than 1,800 players now sleep on Sleep Number 360 smart beds, and the company works closely with team athletic training staffs to provide education about how quality sleep and recovery can enhance their performance.
“These men make their living with their bodies and Sleep Number really helps improve their lives, both professionally and personally,” Warren told us.
The company, which began selling beds and mattresses directly to consumers in 1987 and now has some 600 stores around the country, also has separate deals with the Minnesota Vikings, the Dallas Cowboys, and more recently, the Kansas City Chiefs.
Those pacts have yielded an array of creative, starting with a commercial last year with Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and now including a spot with Cowboys signal-caller Dak Prescott for its 360 Smart Bed that runs during NFL games and other national programming.
The video series—“Josh Jacobs’s Road to the NFL Draft”—features the player’s emotional journey to the NFL, sharing his thoughts as he engages in various training regimens and while at home on the Alabama campus. The segments also integrate Jacobs talking about how sleep and recovery are critical to his physical and mental preparation, as well as the tag line: “Sleep Smarter. Play Better.”
Warren discovered that while he was in high school, Jacobs and his father were homeless, living out of cars and occasionally motels. “He had to overcome a lot,” she said.
Recruited by schools with lesser football programs, Jacobs began tweeting out highlights. “Then, he got the call from the running back coach at Alabama and it changed his life,” Warren recounted.
Warren and her team interviewed Jacobs at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, in Tuscaloosa, and at the draft while producing the video series that runs on the company’s YouTube channel. They also sent out clips from the segments, which run three to four minutes, as “trailers of sorts” to Facebook and Instagram, the company’s primary social drivers, to spark interest.
At the Summit, scheduled to be held at Gurney’s Resort & Spa in Montauk from Oct. 20-23, Warren will share more details about the processes involved in producing the branded content with Jacobs as part of an emphasis on the various forms of video and storytelling that have resonated so far with consumers.
The branded content campaign with Jacobs has proved highly successful. Led by the initial entry, the series has scored more than 28,000 organic YouTube views, a major jump from previous efforts. Social impressions and engagement were up 109% and 119% to their respective goals. Emails, with Jacobs’s content, generated twice the number of click-throughs to the campaign’s benchmark.
This, said Warren, was one of the most successful NFL content partnerships hosted by SleepNumber.com to date.
Warren will also share her acumen about working in different environments and managing expectations at the Summit. Her credits include work on Food Network’s “Diners Drive Ins and Dives,” Lifetime’s “Speaking of Women’s Health,” and “On Native Soil,” an Oscar-shortlisted documentary about 9/11.
Sleep Number will continue to leverage its relationship with the NFL. In addition to work with Jacobs and Prescott, Sleep Number has produced digital executions with Cowboys tight end Jason Witten and with Travis Frederick, the center who missed last season with an autoimmune disease. The company has also produced digital executions around Vikings safety Harrison Smith, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, and guard Pat Elflein, while All Pro tight end Travis Kelce is the first Chief to team with Sleep Number.
“One of the many benefits of working with video is the ability to tell captivating stories that capture the essence of the brand,” said Jay Baum, chief commercial officer at Tremor Video. “Sleep Number’s partnership with the NFL has allowed them the opportunity to share this talented young man’s inspirational story while remaining true to their brand. That’s a win, win.”