Vision Express sets its sights on young drivers

High-street optician Vision Express wanted to boost take-up of its eye exam services, so last year it hired Sheffield-based Dig for Fire to develop a national media campaign that would appeal to young adults.

Campaign: Whoops, Somebody Needs an Eye Test
Client: Vision Express
PR team: Dig for Fire
Timescale: September-November 2006
Budget: Undisclosed

Taking government statistics that showed 28 per cent of all UK car accidents involve drivers in their 20s, the Dig for Fire team decided to investigate whether poor eyesight was a key factor in bad driving.

To position Vision Express as an expert on optical issues. To create awareness of the need for regular eye exams, particularly among young adults, and to position Vision Express as the leading provider of eye exam services, .

Strategy and plan
The RAC was commissioned by Dig for Fire to carry out a survey into the public’s attitude to their eyesight. This found that 28 per cent of 20 to 29-year-olds admitted to having difficulty reading some road signs, giving the agency a key news hook.

The campaign was called ‘Whoops, Somebody Needs an Eye Test’ and had a dual mission to highlight the seriousness of the link between poor eyesight and car accidents, at the same time as providing an entertaining concept that would appeal to young adults.

The campaign needed a strong visual focus, so the shop window at Vision Express’s Nottingham branch was removed and replaced with a car half in the shop to look as if it had crashed. This theme was also used in a 3D poster advert at Vauxhall Cross, central London, with a car rear looking like it was coming out of the billboard.

The campaign press pack included details of the RAC survey, the news story about the car crash, news on Brits struggling with their eyesight at work, information on what an eye test really involves and healthy eye tips from V­ision Express optometrists. A microsite,, featured a film-making competition and a viral film. Outdoor events were also used to appeal to broadcast media and picture editors.

Measurement and evaluation
The campaign was picked up by eight regional newspapers. One was the Nottingham Evening Post – a crucial publication as the city is home to Vision Express’s headquarters – which featured a picture of the shop window stunt. The story was also featured on a number of BBC national radio stations including Five Live and Radio One, Radio Two and Radio Four as well as a number of websites and blogs, including the ­Mumsnet blog.
Trade coverage included specialist magazines such as Optician.

The viral attracted more than 62,000 views, hinting at a strong interest from the target audience of young adults, ­although Vision Express has yet to ­analyse any increases in 20- to 29-year-old customers since the campaign.
It is estimated that the Vauxhall Cross outdoor advertising created around one million opportunities to see. Rory Brogan, managing editor of Optician, said: ‘The Vision Express ­story combined some strong survey ­results and a very unusual photo of a car embedded in a shop window.

‘It was controversial to encourage people to go for an eye exam, but more needs to be done for driver vision to tackle the issue of poor vision among young drivers.’

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