Transitions Optical (TO), which makes photochromic lenses for glasses- the ones that darken when exposed to sunlight - wanted to raise awareness of eye care, particularly about the harmful effects of UV rays, among Hispanics in the US. It looked to an Omnibus Research report, along with other consumer research, for insight.
The research, says Martha Rivera, TO's Hispanic market segment manager, revealed "the needs in all optical circles regarding Hispanic patients" and "several high- density [areas] of Hispanic [populations] where the eye care sector was bigger."
Marketing and educational tools were needed to address and overcome cultural values and barriers, and TO brought in Burson-Marsteller.
"There is a strong focus on the personal relationship," Rivera says. "Doctors need to establish an emotional connection with the patient." Thus, the team wanted to tap a bilingual medical authority as a spokesperson.
It chose Madeline Romeu, O.D., F.A.A.O., who runs a private practice in West New York, NJ, an area with a large Hispanic population. "She's a bridge that understands both American and Spanish cultures," Rivera says.
Participation in health fairs would give TO direct interaction with its audience and offer opportunities to partner with eye care professionals. Two Web sites would be fully adapted to cultural differences and provide materials written in Spanish.
Targeted media included Spanish-language reporters and editors at consumer outlets in both large and small markets. Pitches were geared toward educating about UV exposure and how to protect eyes.
Romeu worked closely with the team to stay up-to-date on all educational message points. She spoke in a series of 10 ANRs, and interviews with syndicated radio reporters expanded reach into smaller US markets.
In June, TO participated in a Los Angeles health fair organized by the National Alliance for Hispanic Health.
"[Health fairs are] grassroots events in which Hispanic consumers get firsthand access to information and services that they otherwise wouldn't be aware of," Rivera says. "[They're the] perfect opportunity for the optical sector to be in direct contact with the population, better understand needs, and make a strong brand presence."
Media coverage totaled more than 191 million impressions in consumer media from October 2006 to October 2007. Romeu appeared on Spanish-language news programs on Univision and Telemundo.
Rivera reports that 100% of patients referred from the health fair to a store or office to receive exams showed up. "We found out that Hispanic consumers attend [health fairs] with enthusiasm," she notes. "They are very effective commercial tools."
Sarah Lora, Burson's market leader for Puerto Rico, notes that partnerships were developed with JCPenney Eye Care Center in North Carolina, the American Optometric Association, and Broward Community College.
Lora says the effort prompted "incremental sales of 7% in select locations in North Carolina."
TO will participate in a Florida health fair in November. A new campaign geared toward Hispanics will launch next year. The partnership between TO and Burson will continue.
PR team: Transitions Optical (Pinellas Park, FL) and Burson-Marsteller (Puerto Rico)
Campaign: Transitions Sheds New Light on UV Protection for Hispanic Eyes
Duration: October 2006-ongoing
Budget: $150,000 to $200,000
It was clearly very smart for TO and Burson to engage the Hispanic community directly and to make sure all messaging reflected sensitivity to the Hispanic culture. And having a Hispanic team lead the effort was instrumental to its success.
A key element was enlisting a doctor as a spokeswoman and helping doctors understand the need for cultural sensitivity and the importance of making an emotional connection with patients. In the future, finding a way to measure the success of those efforts would be wise.
The health fairs were an ideal setting for reaching Hispanic families, as evidenced by all referrals showing up. Relationships derived from the health fair should prove productive.