There are studies, which have revealed that one out of four people have some kind of sleeping disorder or another. On the whole, many of us lack restful sleep and there are several disorders that go completely un-diagnosed. Federal Officials have already called lack of sleep amongst Americans a “public health problem” and have related it to heart diseases, diabetes, strokes and even cancer.
MyPillow is a Minnesota based company that claims to offer respite from sleep disorders and help those who keep tossing and turning at nights. It states that its expensive foam filled pillow can help you fight several conditions including sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and insomnia. It has also used hundreds of customer testimonials to show that the pillow can reduce signs of anxiety, migraines, menopause, acid reflux, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis etc.
However it’s interesting to note that many of these advertisements and claims were taken down from MyPillow website after TINA.org wrote to it stating that the company didn’t have substantiation required by the law. It also stated that it would raise a complaint with FTC, which seems to have done the trick as MyPillow has also promised to remove all other similar marketing from different resources as well.
The company founded and run by Michael Lindell, who calls himself a sleep expert, has already sold more than 4 million pillows in the US. According to Bonnie Pattern, Executive Director, TINA.org, “Though it’s a good thing that MyPillow is taking down these advertisements, they shouldn’t have been up there in the first place. You can say without a doubt that there will be consumers who bought the pillow based on these claims.”
Michael Lindell was involved in a communication with TINA.org regarding deceptive marketing campaign. It was shockingly revealed that the company would drop the testimonial of Tom Clapp, who happens to be the company president of Michael J. Lindell foundation. He also stressed that other unsubstantiated testimonials on the websites, social media pages and TV commercials will also be removed. TINA.org has promised to keep tabs on the progress made.
Its investigation of the marketing campaign of MyPillow revealed – The sale of the pillow was seriously boosted after the airing of a 30 minute infomercial on National television in October 2011. That infomercial and others since then have called Lindell a sleep expert and talked about how MyPillow works better than other options. He has been talking about theory of sleep and other jargon, but Lindell has finally admitted that he has no expertise, board certification or special training in sleep medicine.
But Lindell stresses, “I have spoken to tens of thousands of people directly and gotten their feedback on sleep patterns, which is why I consider myself a sleep expert.” Dr. Raman Malhotra, is board certified in neurology and sleep medicine by the American Board of Medical Specialties and co-director of the SLUCare Sleep Disorders Center in St. Louis, Mo. He responded to the query about sleep and pillows from TINA.org when he said, that pillows, which encourage people to sleep on their side can offer less interrupted slumber. But he added that there was no medical evidence to prove that a pillow could treat medical conditions like sleep apnea and insomnia.
Relationship with National Sleep Foundation
MyPillow is available for $60 with major retailers and about $100 on the company’s website. The online sleep shop of the National Sleep Foundation sells it as its “official pillow”. However whether NSF was paid by MyPillow for the “honor”, it refused to say.
Tom Clifford, vice president of marketing and development for the NSF in his email to TINA.org said, “Our relationships with our official product licensees are multifaceted. We are not at the liberty to divulge all details.”
But Lindell revealed that NSF approached him two-three years ago for the designation for MyPillow although no payment was made for it. He also claimed ignorance about the site’s online store selling MyPillow.
NSF tax filings however have shown earnings from sale of products including MyPillow. Between the years 2010-2012 while the donations remained around $1 million per year, revenue from sale of products increased three fold to $2.3 million. The annual sales of MyPillow have gone from $3 million in 2010 to $60 million in June 2014.
Misleading endorsement in the newspapers – Company’s website uses a familiar logo of The New York Times but according to TINA.org it wasn’t meant to be an endorsement. In fact the author of the article criticizes the pillow. Once this was brought to the notice of the newspaper, the link was taken down.
The price issue – These complaints are not surprising for TINA.org readers because many had complained about the pillow. Another interesting aspect is that the “regular price” of the pillow on the website is almost double of what you’d pay elsewhere.