SLEEP by Max Richter
with Universal Music Group


Universal Music Group Brand and Beautyrest

Project Type

Music and Live Performance.
Interactive Exhibitions


Austin, Texas, USA

Elevating the traditional concert experience

When is falling asleep at a concert the greatest sign of success?

What UMGB asked for

We were asked to create an activation that brought together an award-winning composer's live 8-hour long performance, for its North American debut and one of the largest mattress brands in the US. We wanted to celebrate sleep as an active state and showcase recent advancements in sleep solutions, while creating a dreamlike environment coupled with an unforgettable experience.

The goal was for the brand partnership to become an unforgettable experience for everyone attending, and to catch the imagination of attendees at SxSW, cutting through the noise.

Where our thinking led us

We worked with the UMGB team and the team at Beautyrest to identify the key components for the 8-hour concert that would reflect their brand values, while creating an environment where 150 strangers would be comfortable falling asleep beside each other, and yet be so unusual to be memorable for a long time afterwards.

First we decided on the basics: the mattresses, what size, how many to fit, how far apart so people felt a degree of privacy, how close together so people didn’t feel alone in a strange location (which was the stage at University of Texas), where they could change, where to put their daytime clothes, where to brush their teeth, should we provide ear plugs, extra pillows – it’s the details that matter.

Then we focused on the environment: the lighting was key throughout the night. Dark enough to sleep, bright enough to be able to see if one needed to get up in the middle of the night. We were lucky to partner with Philips, who had developed a lighting range designed to help manage your sleeping experience. These were installed around the stage and key points across the venue, and became part of the activation to slowly and gently wake people towards the end of the performance.

Finally we focused on what happens after. When people wake up. How do you close out a unique event to ensure that the last thing attendees experience matches what has happened over the previous 8 hours. And… what to do with 150 mattresses?

What we did

We laid out the stage with multiple variations on CAD. We looked at how to best brand the venue without taking away from the attendee experience. Subtle yet impactful. We built spaces to test the latest range of mattresses, curated the lighting technology, designed bespoke beverages that helped people relax after a busy day. We dressed walkways, put in signage, provided toothpastes, mouthwashes and lockers.

Once the layout was agreed, we set about installing 150 mattresses, dressing them, adding branded eye masks, and creating a visual impact that was both relaxing yet exciting (we were sleeping on a stage in a 2,000-person auditorium after all!). We worked with the artists' team to discuss their visuals, the projections, the positioning of the speakers, the space required for the performers, the precise positioning of the stage. Every element needed consideration on behalf of the client, the composer, the musician, the attendees and the brand.

150 people got to sleep on the beds. An additional 200 people sat in the auditorium for the opening 2 hours of the performance and were invited back again for the closing hour. People slept, people snored and no one sleepwalked. It was an experience like no other.

The activation caught the attention far beyond SxSW. It was featured in the New York Times, in Vogue, in multiple publications online and in print, won awards (including a Silver at the Clio Awards), and led to a tour of Sleep in the US sponsored by Beautyrest (including in NY and LA).

And to top it off, all mattresses were donated to local Austin-based charities SAFE and Austin Disaster Relief Network.

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