The following is adapted from the book Come Back to Bed.
As “Mattress Mack,” Jim McIngvale of Gallery Furniture has become famous for his big bets. Beyond the millions of dollars in press coverage, there’s a deeper layer of genius at work.
In 2019, Jim promised customers who spent $3,000 or more a refund if the Astros won the World Series. The event generated foot traffic and press, both in good measure.
As the Astros headed to the World Series, Jim knew how much money he needed to offset customer refunds. He bet about $13 million the Houston Astros would win the World Series against the Washington Nationals. If the Astros won, Jim would win his big bets and cover customer refunds. It was an insurance policy that created more exposure.
By jetting around the country placing giant wagers, Jim amplified buzz, creating more press for himself and the Gallery Furniture promotion.
But it wasn’t just the press that made this promotional event such a master stroke. It was also the increase in the number of times Mack’s audience heard his message and the conversations each Houston Astros game generated.
Advertisers are often focused on the number of people hearing their message and how many times each person hears it—reach and frequency. Mattress Mack’s bet created a built-in machine that worked in the background to generate reach and frequency; to achieve these results through traditional channels likely would have cost millions of dollars.
For customers who took the bet and spent $3,000 or more, their interest in Houston Astros baseball went through the roof.
Once a purchase is made and the novelty wears off, most people don’t talk about their furniture or mattress—unless they made a bet against Mattress Mack. If you bought a couch at Gallery Furniture, every time someone sits down to watch a game, you’re telling your friend that sofa might be free if the Astros win the World Series. Throughout the season, you’re watching baseball and holding out hope you’ll get your goods for free. This means you’re thinking about Gallery Furniture every time you watch your home team. For Gallery Furniture, these are free positive impressions.
The Gallery Brand comes back to a customer’s mind during every baseball game. And there are 162 games in a season!