An Eye-Opening Awareness Campaign

Client: Transitions Optical
Agency: Havas PR US
To inform business professionals about the value of premium vision benefits to both employers and employees

The Strategy: Rare is the soul who doesn’t care about the quality or availability of general workplace health benefits—but vision? Despite their importance—and the connection between top-level vision care and a body’s overall health—vision benefits often get short shrift in the grand benefit scheme. It was this state of affairs that lens-maker Transitions Optical set out to change, tapping Havas PR US for the optical company’s ongoing “Healthy Sight Working for You” initiative.

After research conducted by Havas revealed that vision wasn’t, as Angela Braun Mineo, a senior account executive, puts it, “getting the recognition it deserved,” the agency developed a program to demonstrate how vision is about more than a pair of glasses.

The multichannel campaign is centered on grassroots education of employers, who are intended to pass the information to their employees, about the way a vision plan improves employee retention, recruitment, job satisfaction, and all-around health.

“With a B2B campaign, we’re obviously addressing a business audience, but the message also has to be crafted so it can be easily repackaged for an audience of customers,” Mineo says. “We have to be very clear when we’re pulling messages together [to keep] in mind how they might be used for different audiences.”

For instance, one version of the company’s Healthy InSights email newsletter focuses on various health topics and is sent regularly to HR professionals, benefits brokers, and vision plan reps. A second version of the newsletter targeted specifically to employers is available online and includes a link to the same message as the first but in more accessible language designed for employees. This allows HR professionals to quickly share and communicate vision-related information with employees.

“Health is always top of mind, but vision is not something people think about first,” says Pat Huot, former director of managed vision care and online retail integration at Transitions Optical, who helped get the project off the ground. “We were looking to make a connection from a fact-based perspective to change the dynamic of vision plans from a ‘feel-good’ benefit to a potential ROI benefit.”

The Data: Havas’s research also showed the monetary benefits of a good vision plan.

“Specifically, the vision benefit can reduce medical costs through early detection and even prevention of non–eye related health conditions. And if employees can’t see well, they can’t work well, so it can actually improve productivity,” says Mineo, who notes that employee loyalty is also linked to job satisfaction.

While sharing this research gave Transitions Optical visibility, says Susan English, SVP at Euro RSCG Worldwide PR, it also enabled the company to do something more.

“The research we did showed that consumers really do care about the vision side of their benefit; in fact, nearly three in four employees are more likely to keep using or enroll in a vision benefit if their plan covers a premium option like Transitions,” English says. “Preventive health and increased productivity? It’s a strong case for employers to be offering plans covering Transitions products.”

The Channel: Armed with these insights, Havas used a combination of direct mail, PR, email, traditional advertising, online tools, and live events to share the Transitions story with its target audience and keep the brand front and center all year long, not just during enrollment season.

The “Healthy Sight Working for You” microsite helped serve that purpose, with clearly marked portals of entry for different audiences, including vision care providers, brokers, employers, and consumers, each of which was specifically targeted with relevant messaging. The content was also designed to be easily sharable.

“We’re constantly thinking about how resources can be shared between audiences and how they’ll be shared once they’re out there in the real world,” English says. “The goal is to make it as easy as possible for the message to filter down to the consumer level.”

The Creative: The sharable creative around the campaign also had utility. The two Web-based Healthy Sight calculators—one designed for HR and a second for individual consumers—are perfect examples of highly sharable content. While the consumer version allows users to determine potential health risks related to age, gender, ethnicity, lifestyle, and to calculate coverage savings, the HR professional calculator helps employers estimate what ROI might be derived from a vision plan based on the distinct demographics of a specific workforce. The calculators are one of the most successful and widely used campaign assets.

“They were a fairly significant milestone for us” says Transitions’ Huot. “Now the industry has something to use to turn out a nice snapshot of eye health, overall health, and vision data.” From a messaging perspective, the HR calculator in particular resonates with its target audience because it “talks numbers and dollars” and uses “credible research to make a strong case for ROI,” he says.

The Back-end Support: Also core to the initiative is an annual live event called “Transitions Academy,” which for the past five years has included a special managed-care education track featuring two full days of research-based instruction for brokers, vision plan reps, HR executives, and trade media journalists. Participants attended workshops on new eyewear technologies, participated in group discussions, and heard a presentation on findings from the annual Transitions employee survey that tracks vision benefit awareness and usage. The event also recognizes the “Transitions HR Visionary of the Year.”

“It’s a highly targeted group of influencers being given the opportunity to be educated and hopefully change their behavior,” English says. “One attendee told us the event provided a ‘Kumbaya’ moment for him.” More important, in a post-event survey last year, nine out of 10 attendees said the program would help them promote vision.

The Results: Since launching five years ago, the Healthy Sight campaign has generated an estimated 20 million trade impressions, including 9.8 million non-paid editorial trade impressions. VSP, the largest vision provider in the United States, integrated the Healthy Sight calculator into its own Web portal for benefits brokers, leading to more than 60,000 visits to date. According to Transitions Optical, the program created by Havas continues to serve as a key contributor to its continued growth in North America, despite an overall flat market.

“We want folks to put energy into the benefit,” Huot says. “We want to give them that ‘aha’ moment when they realize it and say, ‘You’re right, we didn’t put a lot of effort into vision before.”

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