/ February 6, 2018/ 0 comments

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The of Pearle Vision's Native Advertising

I remember the first time I got glasses. My parents took me to a store at the mall. I was around 10 years old, and for some funny reason I was almost excited to get glasses because that meant I could look a little more like my dad (who still wears the same pair of tragically dated  glasses).

My next memory is being really bored. The process was long (at least for a 10 year old); there were maybe five seats for all the families to fight for and play musical chairs with, and I had to behave myself as if we were in church–not exactly living it to the fullest on a Saturday afternoon.

The experience really wasn’t for me; it was for my parents and the optician.

Spoiler Alert: My vision hasn’t improved and I still go to the eye doctor 20+ years later. I’ve dealt with most major U.S. brands and online vendors. I never really became loyal to any of them. Maybe it’s because my experiences over the years were all sterile. Even as a grownup, I have a hard time telling you the difference between Lens Crafters and Pearle Vision.

Until my last checkup.

Eye Squad to the Rescue

Waiting patiently for my turn while my wife went through a checkup, I glanced around the waiting room like we all do. I didn’t expect much; we were in an optician’s office after all. But, I did a double-take when I saw the Eye Squad book sitting on the end table.

Take a look at the slides below for a closer look at the content…

Front Page
The front page is a great eye-catcher for kids, and there’s a clear callout for both younger and older audiences to set the table for the experience to come. Maybe the most important thing is that it comes across as a good piece of content. It deserves to be picked up and explored.
Take a look...
Inside Pages
The inside pages know exactly who their audience is and how to convert a child’s boredom into engagement. Rather than going into a long essay on eye health like you would expect from doctor office pamphlets, Eye Squad gamifies the learning experience. With word puzzles, mazes, and hidden object games, it reminds me of cereal box activities. They’re perfect time killers, and I can imagine families huddling over the pages to solve some of the puzzles together.
Take a look...
Back Page
The back page is clearly for parents, offering stats and information about child eye health. It includes a call to action, but it’s main concern is selling parents on the information. Just look at the text and graphics--they clearly emphasize and value education over call to action. This is a great way to build trust with the reader and not come across as a blatant ad.
Take a look...

In another setting this piece of content might not be as effective. But, in a boring optician’s waiting room, it was like a canteen in the middle of the Sahara. The colors and cartoons pop. The kids on the cover look right at the reader, inviting us along for the ride on their space quest.

The comic is a great example of content marketing and native advertising. It provides valuable information wrapped in a fun, interactive experience in a format that is refreshing and innovative for the eyewear market. Its message is simple: school vision exams aren’t perfect, and it’s important to get a comprehensive eye exam from an optician for the well-being of children. No big sales pitch or ad slinging a jewel-encrusted $1000 pair of sunglasses.

Instead, it goes around the stereotypical eyeglasses ads and zeroes in on the parents’ need to protect their children. The beauty of this is that the Eye Squad touches on the “Safety” tier of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, piquing our innate interests but wrapping it in a candy coating of good design and gamification.  

From its audience-driven experience to its location-driven design, to its use of color and UX, the Eye Squad is a great native ad. Hats off to the designers and Pearle Vision for going in this direction.

Constructive Criticisms

I’m sure Pearle Vision had good reasons, but from the outside looking in I would have made a few different choices.

I would have chosen a different call to action on the back page. Simply asking parents to talk to their optician in the office would be a “good ask” and it would be hard to forget since they literally are in the optician’s office while reading the content. But, maybe this content is used in more locations than waiting rooms, and I’m sure Pearle Vision has some metric to drive traffic to  its website.

Or, if Pearle Vision wanted to double-down on Eye Squad, asking parents for an email address on a landing page to see “what happens next with the Eye Squad” could have been a good way to put them into a marketing funnel that provided a deeper experience content marketing experience.

Another issue could be the printed format. Kids love phones. While I appreciate the content, my eyes aren’t glued to my mobile. I also grew up with comic books flung all over my room, so Eye Squad really plucked my heartstrings. Maybe some sort of integrated experience for mobile would have had some added cool factor for younger audiences.

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