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Mattress Firm accuses bed-in-a-box startup Tuft & Needle of unfair ad practices in lawsuit

Mattress Firm accuses bed-in-a-box startup Tuft & Needle of unfair ad practices in lawsuit
[Illustration: Chuck Shacochis/Getty Images]

Mattress Firm, America’s dominant mattress retailer, filed a lawsuit in a Texas federal court against Tuft & Needle, a leading mattress-in-a-box company, earlier this week. Mattress Firm alleges “false, unfair, and disparaging advertising” on Tuft & Needle’s part. The Texas-based Mattress Firm has 3,500 locations; its subsidiaries include Sleepy’s and Sleep Train.

Among the advertising practices that bother Mattress Firm? It is irked by a billboard that reads “Mattress Goliath, Meet David,” presenting Tuft & Needle as David. Mattress Firm’s complaint notes that the “Mattress Goliath” in the billboard conspicuously resembles Mattress Firm’s own logo, using the same colors and font.

Mattress Firm also complains that beginning in 2015, Tuft & Needle purchased Google ads that displayed when consumers searched queries related to Mattress Firm–like “mattress firm outlet” or “mattress firm reviews.” Consumers searching for such queries saw Tuft & Needle ads that said things like “Mattress Stores are Greedy” and led to Tuft & Needle’s site instead.

Tuft & Needle continues to use this search ad strategy against several other competitors. Google searches for “casper mattress,” “purple mattress,” and “brooklyn bedding,” and “leesa mattress,” for instance, currently surface a Tuft & Needle Google ad that says “‘Do Not Buy That Mattress’ – Learn the Truth, Why Overpay?” Search engine marketing experts say that similar strategies are not uncommon in Google advertising, in many industries.

For more on recent mattress lawsuits roiling the industry, check out Fast Company‘s report, “The War To Sell You A Mattress Is An Internet Nightmare.”DZ