Agency Makes Passes With Girl Wearing Glasses, Supermodel Repositions Eyewear As Fashion

Chicago-based media shop Starcom has always prided itself on the vision thing. Now with the help of supermodel Heidi Klum, it's going to try and change the way visually challenged consumers think of their eyewear, changing it from a form of prosthetics to a fashion statement. In cross-media advertising and PR blitz beginning this Friday, Starcom will utilize New York's "Fashion Week" as the centerpiece of a campaign repositioning client LensCrafters from a prosaic chain of optical retail outlets to a premiere fashion destination.

The effort, which involves tie-ins with some of the highest profile media properties during the fashion industry Mecca, also is one of the rare public examples of a media agency driving not just media, but the overall marketing of a brand. The effort seeks not simply to reposition LensCrafters as a fashion destination, but the way consumers think of eyewear.

"This really positions the idea that glasses aren't just for improving eyesight, but are one of the most important fashion accessories someone can wear," says Seth McLaughlin, senior vice president of marketing for Luxottica Group's North American retail division, the parent of LensCrafters.



McLaughlin says the effort wasn't devised solely by Starcom. Luxottica's in-house marketing team and its brand agency DDB also played an important role, but he acknowledges that it was driven by Starcom, affirming that great marketing vision can come from anywhere, even a media shop.

To activate that vision, Starcom came up with a "fashion domination" concept that will make LensCrafters the exclusive brand in many of Fashion Week's most visible properties, including Condé Nast Media Group's "Fashion Rocks," Hearst Magazines' "30 Days of Fashion," and Hachette Filipacchi Media's "Style Lounge" fashion shows, where the eyewear retailer will showcase some of its fashion eyewear collections and eyewear shopping experience for the fashion industry.

But the effort isn't simply a media buy. It ties into every point of LensCrafters' contact with consumers, including a complete makeover of its retail outlets. The first of those makeovers, a redesign of LensCrafters' flagship store in Midtown Manhattan emphasizing fashion over optics, has already helped spark a viral push. The store, which features posters of Heidi Klum wearing various designer frames, has already begun selling on eBay, and a footage of a LensCrafters' photo shoot has already begun circulating as a video on the Internet.

"As a marketer, you always hope something like this will happen," says McLaughlin, "but when you get that viral aspect going it really takes on a life of its own."

Even weeks before the Fashion Week crescendo, McLaughlin says images of Heidi Klum wearing designer eyeglasses is showing up on the Web, in fan sites, and even in fashion shoots for designer apparel brands.

"This really positions the idea of eyeglasses," he says, adding, "Let's face, our product is not something anybody wants, but they have to wear. We're starting to get people to think that wearing glasses is cool."

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