Transitions Optical is a global manufacturer of photochromic lenses. It distributes to lens labs across North America, which in turn distribute to eye care professionals.
One issue of particular interest to the company is eye safety.
"Our goal is to educate consumers about the need to protect their eyes from the dangers of UV," says Mary O'Hara, PR manager. "We wanted to let a mass audience know to visit their eye care professional."
Transitions Optical previously worked with Burson-Marsteller on consumer outreach, but this program was much bigger in scope. "This is the largest consumer outreach program we've done," O'Hara says.
In developing the program, the PR team realized the need to address two distinct audiences.
"Part of [the challenge] was, how do we get this message out to families throughout North America and also tie it back to business partners?" says Erin Byrne, MD at Burson.
The team devised a plan for a museum tour, but knew that it would have to find a suitable educational partner.
"We didn't want this to be just about Transitions," says O'Hara. "We wanted it to be about health, and we wanted to have someone to partner with that would give us the entr?e to the museums and the credibility."
As far as media outreach, the team decided it would have to localize pitches while finding a catchy hook.
The PR team partnered with the Carnegie Science Center, which Burson had worked with before. "The Carnegie Science Center partnership was critical because they have expertise in developing engaging exhibits for science center audiences," says Byrne.
The museum tour traveled to 12 cities, including Baltimore, St. Louis, Detroit, New York, Dallas, Pittsburgh, San Jose, and Vancouver. The interactive exhibit, geared toward middle-school children, featured information about how the eye works, as well as the history of eyeglasses. Burson also developed a website (www.eyedidntknowthat.info) to help bring the exhibit to life.
"It extended the program's reach beyond the tour cities," Byrne says. The site's "Teachers Lounge" area features free posters and lesson plans about eye health. Byrne says the site also includes "factoids" to help parents frame the need for vision education.
The site's "Partners Center" lets eye care professionals download marketing materials related to the effort.
Byrne says the news hook for the exhibit was elevating the need for eye protection from the sun to the same level as that of skin. She adds that it was also important to tie the news back to the city where the tour was at the time. Transitions was able to use its network of spokespeople to localize the media coverage.
"We had doctors who were willing to go on camera for us," O'Hara says.
In addition to more than 90 million media impressions, the campaign resulted in 9,000 downloads of school-program material from the website and the distribution of 10,000 posters.
In total, 172,000 North American visitors have interacted with the exhibit, and the website has attracted 175,000 visitors.
Burson and Transitions Optical continue to work on consumer outreach and education about eye health. "We're still very supportive of the program," O'Hara says, adding that they will expand the youth education and school program in 2006.
Byrne says they hope to take the school program to "the next level" and will target youth groups. The team is also planning to add new educational activities to the website. "We have an exciting program planned for next year," she says.
PR team: Transitions Optical (Pinellas Park, FL) and Burson-Marsteller (Pittsburgh and New York offices)
Campaign: Eye Didn't Know That!
Time frame: February to September 2005
Budget: $1.2 million