Campaign: The launch of GlassesDirect.co.uk
PR team: Brian MacLaurin Associates
Timescale: December 2004-March 2005
Young entrepreneur James Murray Wells set up GlassesDirect.co.uk last August in an effort to shake up the optician market. While the average pair of glasses cost around £150 on the high street, Wells sells spectacles from as little as £15. Brian MacLaurin Associates was asked to come up with a media campaign and handle industry reaction.
To increase awareness of the company and its service. To boost the number of hits on the website and drive sales.
Strategy and Plan
Brian MacLaurin Associates decided to focus on the 'rip-off' angle. Because the target audience was the general public, the team targeted tabloids, which ran pieces highlighting the price disparity between high-street opticians and the new company.
This generated interest among other national and regional media and resulted in an appearance on GMTV.
The priority was to ensure that GlassesDirect.co.uk was seen as a credible business, not just the backroom operation of a student.
An important aspect of the campaign was optical trade press, and although these magazines were likely to be sceptical of Wells' service, the PR team kept journalists informed of developments and they were encouraged to meet the young businessman.
A crisis management campaign ran in tandem with the media relations activity, in an effort to counter potential opposition from the major high-street opticians. It focused on substantiating the quality of GlassesDirect's products.
The PR team also targeted web magazines to highlight the novelty and usability of the service.
Measurement and Evaluation
The company's launch featured in the Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Mirror and Daily Star. This was followed by coverage in the business sections of The Sunday Times and The Observer. An extensive interview with Wells featured on GMTV.
Profiles in business magazines included major industry title The Optician, while regional coverage included articles in the Irish Independent and Western Daily Press, as well as on BBC Radio Birmingham and BBC Southern Counties Radio.
All coverage was positive, apart from a few letters from opticians printed in the Daily Mail and trade press.
GlassesDirect.co.uk reported a 300 per cent increase in orders during the first four weeks of the campaign. Between November 2004 and January 2005 it was selling 100 pairs a day, and now averages 390 sales a day. As a result, the company has retained Brian MacLaurin Associates on a 12-month contract.
Irish Independent feature writer John Meagher ran a piece on GlassesDirect.co.uk after reading the story in the Daily Mail. He was keen to highlight the price difference and liked the fact that Wells was a young entrepreneur.
'The PR company was very helpful and set up the interview with Wells, but I was surprised it didn't offer me the chance to try a pair of the glasses myself - I would have appreciated that,' he says.