Online Exclusives

Seven Day Stretch

By Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor | February 11, 2011

Downy and Macy's team up for weeklong in-store promotion.

Comedy Central comedian and author Mike Birbiglia slept in a couple weeks ago—in a Macy’s window display to live and sleep for seven full days, that is. As a part of a promotion with fabric softener leader Downy and Macy’s, the funnyman camped out at the retailer’s Herald Square flagship in New York City from Jan. 26-Feb. 1 for the “Clean Sheet Week Challenge” to promote the “long-lasting freshness benefits of Ultra Downy April Fresh,” according to Procter & Gamble, the brand’s manufacturer.


The comedian is best known for his New York Times top selling book “Sleepwalk with Me,” where he discusses his sleepwalking issues. During Clean Sheet Week, his challenge was to sleep in the Macy’s front display area and, when not snoozing, interact with the general public via social media sites. Fans were able to engage with Birbiglia during the entire week by visiting Downy and Macy’s on Facebook ( or

A National Sleep Foundation 2010 Bedroom Poll, made possible by an educational grant from Downy, inspired the Downy-Macy’s partnership when it revealed numerous insights about the relationship between sleep and sheets with a fresh scent, according to the company. Poll findings revealed seven out of 10 people claim to get a more comfortable night’s rest on sheets with a fresh scent and eight out of 10 people wash their sheets after purchasing them.

Birbiglia took time from his busy promotion to correspond with Happi about the project:

Happi: How and why did you decide to partner with P&G and Downy for this project?

MB: I got a call in December from the folks at Downy, and they wanted to know if I’d take the Clean Sheet Week Challenge and live in their sheets for a week. I said, “Sure, send them over to my place.” And they said, “Actually, we want you to come to our place, and by place, we mean, we want you to live in the window of the Herald Square Macy’s.” And I asked if I could do the Downy 24-hour challenge or the Downy Few Days challenge, and they were really insistent on this entire week of sleeping in the Macy’s window to see if their sheets stay fresh. I think they saw a natural tie-in from my one-man show and my book “Sleepwalk With Me.” And here I am.

Happi: What is it about the scent of sheets that helps with a good night's sleep?

MB: Well, they tell me that it’s not actually the scent of the sheets, but the feeling of fresh sheets that helps people get a more comfortable night’s rest. And this isn’t just my theory, but the conclusion of scientists in white lab coats at the National Sleep Foundation who have studied sleeping people. And right now I’m putting these sheets to the test.

Happi: What are your favorite scents for laundry products and why?

MB: To be honest, before this week, I didn't have scent preferences or really know anything at all about fabric softener. But now that I've spent some time thinking about it (roughly seven days), I'd say...April Fresh. Second prize: chocolate scent, which doesn't exist...yet.

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