CAMPAIGNS: Specsavers combats ref abuse issue - Sports/Consumer PR

Client: Specsavers Optical Group PR Team: The Petersen Partnership and Total Sponsorship with Specsavers and the Welsh Rugby Union Campaign: Get Your Blinking Eyes Tested Ref Timescale: July-August 2002 Budget: Part of retainer

Specsavers Opticians, the UK's largest optical retailer, was looking for new ways to promote the brand in Wales. It worked with Total Sponsorship to find a relevant partner and settled on Welsh rugby referees, since they are often the target of abuse based on alleged poor eyesight.

The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) wanted to lighten the atmosphere at games and tackle the abuse of referees. Specsavers signed a four-year, six-figure deal this summer with WRU referees.

The Petersen Partnership, Specsavers' retained PR consultancy in Wales, developed a campaign to support the announcement of the sponsorship deal.


To announce the sponsorship deal, to raise public awareness of the Specsavers brand and underline Specsavers' commitment to Wales. To inject humour into rugby along with the role of WRU referees, improve the relationship between fans, coaches and referees, and help grassroots sport.

Strategy and Plan

There were five target audiences for media coverage of the sponsorship: local, national, the optical trade press, the sports press, and the sponsorship and marketing press.

The campaign focused on the humorous element of the partnership, with the slogan 'Get your blinking eyes tested ref'.

The Petersen Partnership devised placards with the Specsavers logo, to be distributed to fans in WRU grounds, in the format of the traditional eye-testing chart. One side of the placards carried the campaign slogan, while the other, for more triumphant fans, read 'Nice Try'.

Welsh Big Brother 2 contestant Helen Adams was roped in to back the campaign.

A press conference and press releases sent out by WRU announced a six-figure sponsorship deal.

All WRU referees from the premiership to division seven would wear branded kit promoting Specsavers Opticians as official partner.

Measurement and Evaluation

The press conference attracted 20 UK journalists, gaining a high profile in the season's first week.

National coverage of the story included the front page of The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, the Welsh Mirror, the Daily Express, BBC Breakfast, and British Forces Broadcasting Services. Trade coverage included Sponsorship News, Adline and Campaign. Regional media coverage included BBC Radio Wales, BBC Wales, HTV News, S4C, and the Western Mail.


Evaluation of the impact of the announcement and the start of the campaign is being carried out by Total Sponsorship, including consumer brand recognition and the appearances of the new kit and placards on TV. The long-term deal has already been judged enough of a success for it to be rolled out in September by Specsavers with referees in Scotland.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in