Celebrating the ‘joy of nothing’: Alcon focuses on contact lens comfort rather than technical details

In marketing a new contact lens, Alcon focuses on comfort rather than technical wizardry.

Celebrating the ‘joy of nothing’: Alcon focuses on contact lens comfort rather than technical details

Sometimes the professional lives of marketers can have an existential quality: How do you convince people that a discomfort they have come to accept doesn’t need to exist? And a product they’ve never considered can improve their lives in ways they hadn’t imagined?

That was the challenge Alcon tackled with its multichannel Joy of Nothing campaign. The effort targeted eye-care professionals in advance of the launch of Total30, a monthly reusable contact lens.

“When you ask people if they are happy with their contact lens, they nod a lot. ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, very happy,’” said Sophie Woodford, global VP of brands and commercial programs at Alcon. “But if you get under the skin of that, you then find that some 73% of customers actually have some sort of discomfort, whether it was having to take them out early or use drops during the course of the day. They normalize that as part of the experience.”

Since arriving at Alcon three years ago, Woodford’s focus has been on creating commercial programs that involve every department — marketing, sales, you name it. She believes that such an approach is the only way to birth truly effective multichannel campaigns.

“Research indicates that 60% of advertising isn’t seen and then 60% isn’t attributed to the right brand. Why? Because we are all saying the same thing and then it becomes wallpaper that is features- and benefits-led,” Woodford explained. “To move from that kind of work to changing behavior, we start by looking at barriers that are getting in the way of people using our product.”

In the case of Total30, the shift in focus resulted in a campaign that is less about technological advancements and more about emotion.

“As an industry, we have been so obsessed with the technology that we forget there are people here,” she said. “What we are really selling is vision — and we’d lost sight of that a little bit. What we are actually here to do is to help people to see the sunrise, see their children, read a book, look at art. That’s a far more inspiring place to be then getting down in the technological weeds.”

While the Total30 campaign taps multiple channels, Woodford describes the selection process as contextually based.

“We flipped our process around,” she said. “Instead of starting with ‘we need a TV spot,’ we started with our big idea. Which is something that solves the behavioral problem, that is inspiring and that is channel-agnostic.”

That’s partially why Woodford has formally put a kibosh on banter about 360-degree marketing.

“I banned my people from talking about it,” she quipped. “It’s a really outdated concept that leads to bad behaviors. You think you have to do everything in every place, and actually you don’t,” Woodford says.

Such thinking gets in the way of Woodford and her team making “really smart choices about when the consumer is going to be most receptive to our message and what the best way is to creatively bring something to life.”

By way of example, she pointed to the campaign’s Joy Lab, which uses AR technology to explain the benefits of the lens. “It’s an innovative approach that fits a lens which is also innovative,” she added.

The first phase of Joy of Nothing focused on eye-care professionals, with consumers set to follow in 2022. Woodford hopes that both phases will result in different conversations.

“‘Can you feel your lens? Do your lenses feel like nothing?’ Those are easier questions than, ‘Is everything okay? Is your lens comfortable?’” she said. “It leads to a different discussion. If we can intervene in that moment, we can start to change behavior.”

This story first appeared on mmm-online.com.

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