Most of us are very familiar with the Disney movie, Finding Nemo, about a clownfish who swims too close to the surface against the pleas of his over-cautious father, only to be captured and placed inside a dentist’s fish tank. Nemo’s father, Marlin, sets out to rescue Nemo with the aid of a blue reef fish, Dory, as they make their way across the ocean to 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney, Australia.
There several scenes in the movie where a group of antagonistic but mindless, greedy, and constantly hungry seagulls flap their wings while all shouting ‘Mine” Mine” Mine”. For years now, anytime a child clutches an item close to their chest and says “mine” I am reminded of those scenes from both Finding Nemo and Finding Dory, the sequel. Selfishness is inate in humans. We have to teach little kids to share. That’s why there are so many songs on pre-school television shows about sharing.
It seems a great number of eyewear companies have forgotten that sharing is caring.
As a marketer, I still do advertising for some select eyecare practices. Over the years, I have worked with optical shops large and small to build websites, design advertising, do POP, and in-store merchandising. By far, one of the most difficult things I have ever experienced, in my decades of working in the optical industry is getting artwork from optical frame and lens companies
Any of you who have paid for wedding photos or senior pictures for your children know how expensive a good photographer is. Imagine the cost of photographing every frame in every color with the right lighting like tin soldiers, each one at the exact same angle at the exact same size and lighting. Imagine the cost of hiring models, going on location, getting hair and makeup done right, and hiring the right photographer to get the lifestyle shots that capture the essence of your brand, in most normal years, twice a year. An eyewear manufacturer who can do all that for under $25,000-$30,000 is doing things extremely economically.
After all the eyewear is photographed. After the models have gone on to their next exotic location. What happens to all those expensive pictures? Most of the product shots end up on the manufacturer website, of course. A handful of the lifestyle images too. Still, a select few might end up as ads on our website or used as ads in trade magazines. Ask yourself, how often are they ever readily and voluntarily shared with you, the retail ECP partner? I’ve been going to Vision Expos for a long long time and I can count on just two hands the number of times a company has ever handed me a CD or Flash Drive saying here is our latest campaign images, please feel free to help promote our brand.
No, what happens more often than not is most eyewear manufacturers turn into Gollum, the early hobbit originally known as Smeagol, who treasured and sought the One Ring, in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. He was overwhelmed with the desire to reclaim “My Precious”, with greed so fierce he would and did kill to claim the ring as his own. After spending tens of thousands of dollars in photographing eyewear in both still-life product shots and lifestyle model shots, most eyewear companies become so protective of the images, you can almost hear them murmur “My Precious” every time we ask them to share their imagery.
I remember one Vision Expo where I met with a sizeable multi-national optical manufacturer where the subject of the meeting, made well in advance, was about the brand imagery from the company and the company brought along a lawyer to the meeting to explain some of the reasons they don’t like to “share” their images. The most often repeated reason I’ve heard over the years is the company doesn’t want their images used in discounting their eyewear. I will admit I too have been guilty of doing that over the years. Let’s face facts though. Practices will continue to do so with or without the permission of their vendors because they need to move product to pay their bills, pay their staff, and clear their shelves or frame boards to bring in new product they hope will sell easily at full price. These ECPs will most often do it because they don’t have the luxury of a marketing department or high-quality professional marketing staff people and have to work with whatever they can.
Whether an advertisement says 30% OFF XYZ brand over an image of that brand or in 100 pt tall letters on a contrasting single color background, a sale is still a sale. I can also argue that some of the companies who have over the years complained the loudest about ECPs discounting their products and who have been the most obstinant about sharing images are the first to discount their own product and spend million in ads selling on their own e-commerce websites.
Let’s put discounting aside for the moment. Where is the logic in spending tens of thousands of dollars in photography for a marketing campaign and then denying your retail partners the use of those images to promote your brand in their stores? Sure, some stores do a phenomenal job with their marketing and represent the brands they partner with beautifully, while others suck at it. Some manufacturers help their retail partners by working with them on the ads for them. (Others do it to retain complete control of the images, putting their own websites in the ads their retail partners are actually paying for.) More often than not, retail optical shops have to beg for images, which can then take weeks or even months for eyewear manufactures to put something together to share. I can’t begin to tell you of the images I am still waiting for, promised to me, from even as far back as to be before the coronavirus pandemic.
I bring this up for two reasons. One, this has been an ongoing battle in optical for me going into my third decade now. Today, when cloud sharing sites proliferate, the excuses and expense of burning CDs or shipping flash drives have all but disappeared. The second reason is while looking at optical sites today, I found a company that seems to understand the concept of sharing and how a rising tide lifts all ships and is making a good portion of their images available to their dealers without having to beg, without having to jump through hoops of fire, and without having to wait for a busy marketing department to forget to send the requested images.
Bellinger House has shared beautifully produced videos, social media content, logos, and lifestyle images on the websites of Bellinger, Blac, and Entourage of 7. They not only share these images but also put an email to make themselves available to help ECPs with marketing for special events, shows, and window decorations. I tip my hat to Bellinger and encourage other brands to follow their lead.
If you are not familiar with Bellinger, here are their brands and their websites.