Picture of 5 different Serta Sheep

The History Behind the Serta Counting Sheep

April 30, 2024

Author: Josie Sivigny

Most people know the Serta Counting Sheep through their appearances in television commercials. Maybe you’ve seen the popular Serta Counting Sheep plush toys in stores or on sale to collectors on eBay. But do you know how the Serta Counting Sheep came into being?



Way back in 2000, an advertising executive was trying to sleep after a long day at the office. His lumpy old mattress buckled and sank beneath him, and he groaned, “Why have I put off getting a Serta?” Resigning himself to a sleepless night, he made a last-ditch effort to fall asleep and began counting sheep. As #71 made its graceful arc over the wooden fence the executive knew so well, something occurred to him. When I get my new Serta Mattress, he thought, these sheep are gonna be out of business! And just like that, the idea of the Serta Counting Sheep was born.



The next morning, the advertising executive approached Serta with his Serta Counting Sheep concept. “We’ll make ’em stars!” he said, “We just gotta find the right sheep for the job!” Serta loved the idea, and a worldwide search for the Serta Counting Sheep was launched.



After months of fruitless auditions, the agency grew weary of the idea. “Who knew sheep could be so bland!” they complained. “Aren’t there any sheep in the world with any personality?” they asked. And in the style of a television sitcom, in walked a future Serta Counting Sheep. “What’s up?” bleated #1, standing front and center with his flock. “You the people looking for some sheep?” The agency executives looked at each other, then back at the sheep. “When can you start?” they asked.



The rest is history. Television, print ads, worldwide notoriety…the Serta Counting Sheep are everywhere. The ad agency and Aardman Animation turned a flock of unknown cud-chewing fence-jumpers into superstars. Why, they’ve even been inducted into the 2008 Madison Avenue Walk of Fame as Advertising Icons of the Year! Here is a brief list of some of their accomplishments since that fateful night in 2001 when an ad exec couldn’t sleep because he didn’t have a Serta mattress:


  • Gold Effie – 2002
  • American Advertising Federation Silver Addy – 2002
  • Advertising Age Commercial of the Month – 2003
  • Nominated for 2007 Madison Avenue Icon of the Year – 2007
  • Winner of the Madison Avenue Icon of the Year – 2008
  • The Serta Counting Sheep have starred in over 20 television spots
  • A very collectible line of Serta Counting Sheep plush toys



Many of you may scratch your heads, wondering where the Serta Counting Sheep came from before being made into stars. The ad agency and Aardman wondered that same thing, and here’s what they tell us they were able to learn.


“They were pretty closed-mouthed about their origins,” said the ad exec. “A couple of them, Serta Sheep #13 and #86, I think, have alluded to one-time employment someplace in the Upper Midwest. I don’t even know how they heard about the casting call. I think they’re trying to maintain an air of mystery, like old-time movie stars used to. They don’t want to get typecast, you know?”


We may never know what pasture the Serta Counting Sheep used to call home. As their antics with Serta continue, perhaps their story will continue to unfold. Until then, stay tuned and sleep well on your Serta Mattress.



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