Eclipse 2015: Solar spectacle, spectacles & guerrilla PR

On 20 March the UK saw its first eclipse since 1999 and, despite reports of clouds blocking the view, those who saw it said it was breath-taking.

The view we were proud of was in Leicester – the scene of guerrilla activity for Essilor, world leaders in ophthalmic optics.  They wanted to help people watch the eclipse safely and promote their Crizal UV brand of lenses to protect eyes from harmful UV rays. Leicester Racecourse hosted a special edition of BBC Stargazing Live, drawing huge crowds to view the eclipse, and so the perfect place for Essilor to teach the public how to practise safe sun.

With brilliant foresight, Essilor had produced 15,000 eclipse safety specs which we distributed to the Leicester eclipse viewers, and also through regional newspapers across the UK and Scottish observatories, all in places where the eclipse crowds were expected to be heavy.

We sent some specs to high profile national TV and radio presenters to make sure they were well-protected when they watched and reported the eclipse – Loose Women even sent a courier to get some more!

We quickly realised that viewing specs were in short supply and Essilor was the only brand that had taken this eclipse initiative. We had calls from schools and individuals around the UK asking if they could buy the glasses directly from us. 

At Leicester Racecourse before the fun kicked off at 8.30am we needed to distribute the specs, so we got the public’s attention with Essilor’s eye health promotional mascots, The Protectors and a pair of giant specs. A local independent optician, Hesham Goda from Henry, Smith and Hamylton, also advised the people of Leicester the dangers of staring directly at the eclipse without protection.

The Protectors created the perfect buzz for the eclipse crowds. Children and their families took turns to take selfies with them and claim their free specs. We caught the eyes of the media photographers too, who got shots of people wearing the Crizal UV branded free specs.

Working with Esslior we potentially saved 15,000 pairs of eyes from eclipse damage – a worthy public health initiative.

The media coverage and Crizal branding opportunities had a potential reach of more than four million individuals for a client who campaigns on UV awareness. The feedback showed a natural phenomenon had been harnessed to generate phenomenal awareness of the issues. 

Read more about our work with Essilor on this project in our case studies.