|Promotional Diecut Postcard|
(Courtesy Vintage Roadside flickr site)
Back then, Sleepy was a small bear cub, like Winnie-the-Pooh. He wore a nightshirt and sleeping cap, and was obviously tired and ready to hibernate.
Usually he appeared to be sleepwalking, just like they do in animated cartoons with arms sticking straight out. Other times, he was shown carrying a suitcase, just like Travelodge customers.
(Courtesy Todd Franklin's Neato Coolville flickr website)
According to the Travelodge website, Sleepy originated with the very first Travelodge in San Diego, California back in the early 1950s.
Travelodge made good use of the bruin goodwill ambassador in their advertising.
They used Sleepy not only in printed ads, brochures, postcards and matchbook covers, but on motel signage and items as well.
|(Courtesy Dave Eames' great Historic Highways online museum)|
For kids, the motel chain manufactured a stuffed version of Sleepy (below).
For adults, a special Jim Beam decanter in the shape of Sleepy Bear was issued (below).
|Sleepy Bear decanter, currently for sale on Etsy|
Travelodge even had full-size Sleepy costumes (below) made, so that he could make public appearances.
Then in the 1970s, the sleep-deprived bear was downplayed in advertising, and was often featured only in silhouette (below).By 1980 or so, Sleepy was completely redesigned and given a new, jowly look. His white nightshirt was replaced with a blue pajama top, with matching sleep cap and slippers.
|"New" Sleepy and "Old" Sleepy|
Gone are the nightshirt and sleeping cap. This new Sleepy is all grown up. Surprisingly, Sleepy's not even sleepy any more!
Why? According to the Travelodge website, the explanation is that since he sleeps at Travelodge, he's well-rested and ready for adventure. It looks like he's longer a Travelodge customer anymore too; now, he's a full-fledged employee with an official company vest.
He's featured in TV commercials and on the official Travelodge Facebook page.
Travelodge has celebrated Sleepy's new look with a special page on the company website with an online graphic showing his evolution through the years (below).
As for me, though, I still prefer the design of the sleepwalking 1950s Sleepy. I can identify with him, too – as I'm always hoping to get that elusive good night's sleep.