Yesterday’s late edition of the Sunday New York Times arrived wrapped in an advertisement for Casper, the hip and trendy mattress company. The layout is brilliantly designed—it works every way you handle a newspaper.
Above the fold, the ad is immediately arresting. With the generous white space, the focal point is clear: the model. Her body is turned away from us, but she is looking directly at us with an intriguing Mona Lisa-like expression. The type is centered, but she isn’t. All of this keeps the layout dynamic.
The typeface is Verlag Thin. Set with extra letterspacing, the white space creates a calming effect. And in white on a pale gray gradient, it feels fresh, open, and airy.
Flipping the paper open…
We find the model is sitting on a pale surface that could be anything. Perhaps a rug or carpet. Yet, because the copy says “A NEW DAY IN SLEEP,” we can infer that she is sitting on a mattress. Rather than showing us a mattress, its price, and text that explains, “MATTRESS SALE!” this ad creates a sense of quiet sophistication. This is clearly brand, not direct, marketing.
What are the promises that are implied? With its balanced proportions, the ad conveys stability. But more than that, the model appears healthy. She appears relaxed and rested, and her posture is comfortable—she could be getting up or about to recline. She appears calm and content. The ad conveys hope that we, too, can wake up looking like this.
After all, this model looks real and relatable. Her clothes are neutral and casual, like something we might wear. It’s not dramatic or overtly suggestive, which would send a different message about the types of people these mattresses are for. She looks friendly.
The ad is also easy on the eyes in colors. With the foreground and background darkened near the top and bottom of the page like shadows, the space feels cooling and calming though with a slight sense of drama.
When you open the newspaper to read its contents, someone across from you gets this view of the outside:
Pillows and blankets would be a distraction. With nothing more than the headboard (or, possibly, footboard) of the bed and a minimalist lamp, the ad clearly is about the mattress, photographed with soft shadows that accentuate its sumptuousness.
The full spread layout remains stable, with the seated model balanced by the quote text (the generous size and leading help to create volume out of three words), as well as the background elements of the bed and lamp. The quote is lower in priority to the main ad copy, so the sentence case and dark gray color allow it to recede while “A NEW DAY IN SLEEP” and the Casper logotype pop off the background in their bright white.
Of course, you might never see that full spread, if you’re only reading the newspaper’s contents. But when you’ve finished catching up on Trump’s latest antics and the raging hormones of our stock market, you’ll close the paper to see this:
Stability and tranquility. The quote is centered on the page. This image of gentle shadows and a bed is sufficient to remind you of the quiet, restful, attractive image you already saw from the front side of the ad. And with the blurb from Architectural Digest, you can expect all that comfort and cutting-edge technology from Casper.
Nowhere in the advertisement does the word “mattress” appear—not even in the quote. Because with an ad like this, it’s not about the mattress. It’s about a new day…not simply in sleep, but also in your lifestyle.