Specsavers gives wearing glasses an edge, but it needs to take things to another level

MaryLou Costa is a key member of the Marketing Week features team and her blog brings her unique Australian perspective to brands. She also oversees the Market Research Focus weekly bulletin.

Specsavers’ annual Spectacle Wearer of the Year Awards in London this week was a star studded, paparazzi prone event that gave attendees a new perspective on glasses as a fashion accessory. But something was missing.

It had many of the right ingredients – not just in terms of flowing champagne, canapes and an appropriate celebrity presence, but in terms of brand ambassador and agenda. In national fashion treasure Gok Wan, whose black rimmed specs are a signature part of his look, Specsavers has found the elusive match made in heaven partnership. Utilising Gok’s dedicated fan base, larger than life personality and design skills in a branded range have all added genuine fashion credentials to the Specsavers brand.

Having him front the awards ceremony makes great sense, and the modelling competition made up of genuine spectacle wearers is a compelling angle. The celebrity attendees, such as Kara Tointon, Lauren Goodger and Lauren Pope from The Only Way is Essex, Martine McCutcheon and former Atomic Kitten Jenny Frost ensured the paparazzis had plenty of material to supply to the gossip hungry titles for coverage the next morning.

The likes of OK Magazine and Metro were among the many media outlets that eagerly printed a dazzling array of photos from the evening. However it was refreshing to note that apart from the ones that jumped on the mounds of celebrity images, there were a few titles that noted one of the event’s biggest flaws. The Daily Mail, Huffington Post and Mr Paparazzi all questioned the lack of genuine glasses wearers amongst the celebrity guests.

They noted how the two Laurens from TOWIE at first declined to even put on a pair of glasses but eventually did for a photo opportunity, and how Celebrity Spec Wearer of the Year winner, Max George from boyband The Wanted, is barely ever spotted wearing glasses.

The Only Way is Essex's Laurens finally with their glasses
The Only Way is Essex’s Laurens finally with their glasses

Don’t get me wrong – the event was very well run, and the modelling competition finalists giving humorous accounts of life with glasses was an effective way of invoking interest and empathy. But so much more could be done around these 10 people each year – I’m thinking glossy campaigns, blogs, videos and magazine advertorials to gain some real PR mileage.

Spectacle Wearer of the Year Finalists with Kara Tointon and Gok Wan
Spectacle Wearer of the Year Finalists with Kara Tointon and Gok Wan

Specsavers has done some great work – the “Specs effect” parody of Lynx, and “Should have gone to Specsavers” campaigns offer some laugh out loud moments. Specsavers clearly knows how to create clever marketing and its Spectacle Wearer of the Year Awards is a great asset.

But without even being marketing geniuses, The Daily Mail, Huffington Post and Mr Paparazzi picked up on what was missing. If Specsavers can fill this gap for next year’s event then the brand will really be in a position to be a campaigner for spectacle wearers.

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