By Preston Fassel
With people’s faces covered by masks during every social interaction, we’re left with only one another’s eyes to pick up on social cues. Gone are frowns and smiles, scrunched noses, and smirks. Everything we perceive about one another now, and every signal we send, is exclusively through our eyes. I’m reminded of what just might be the Don Draper “Carousel” ad line of the optical world, a marketing campaign so brilliant that it’s echoed down through the generations, if not literally, then in practice: “Glasses are jewelry for your eyes.”
What brilliant mind originated the campaign has probably been lost to history, and I’ve heard it attributed to Shuron, Art-Craft, and other manufacturers of both the pre-and-post war era. Regardless of who thought it up or when, it certainly came about during an era when eyewear was still seen as a medical device and the domain of the elderly and scholarly. By shifting the cultural paradigm for both patients, retailers, and the average American to look at glasses as a piece of jewelry or accessory, the campaign helped eliminate social stigma and encouraged consumers not only to embrace eyeglasses but to feel better about themselves in the process.
It’s a tag that could be just as relevant today, albeit with different sociocultural factors and connotations. Gone are the days of eyewear being stigmatized, but here to stay are the days of multi-pair sales and insurance benefit roll-overs. What better way to encourage patients to use those benefits or buy a second (or third?) pair than to recontextualize glasses as another piece of valued (and useful) jewelry? After all, who owns one ring or one watch? And what better time to consider accessorizing when literally all anyone has to look at you for social cues are your eyes?
It’s an especially pertinent topic and intriguing way to get your patients to reconsider how they think about, use, and engage with eyewear. Although fashion trends for men have shifted over the past decade and more male patients—particularly in the Millennial demographic—are coming to embrace accessorizing, by and large male eyeglass wearers will still think of eyewear in strictly utilitarian terms. Female patients, on the other hand, have been primed to think of their eyewear more in terms of an accessory for decades now, in line with a purse or a watch. While that was a smart choice, they rather missed the ship on trying to frame it as something unique rather than take a nod from that great old ad campaign and encourage patients to think of their frames as something they have multiple iterations of—like pieces of jewelry. Not only will it help move patients towards multi-pair sales, it’ll also allow them to feel better and more positively about themselves. After all, who doesn’t instantly feel better putting on a nice piece of jewelry?
Hopefully 2021 will present a return to something resembling normal—and the ability to send cues with the rest of our faces again. Even moving into a post-COVID world, though, reframing your patients’ perception about their eyewear is a fantastic way to encourage them to buy multiple pairs, and it’s a way of thinking that’ll be applicable with or without face coverings.
You can learn how to present the brand/product story for eyewear with our CE, The Art of Dispensing, at 2020mag.com/ce. This course is free, supported by an educational grant from DE RIGO REM and POLICE.