The Ray-Ban Marketing:
Bausch & Lomb never intended to create a brand of sunglasses for the everyday man when they started working on the product that would evolve into Ray-Ban glasses back in the 30’s. It was all about reducing headaches and nausea of the pilots of the US Army caused by intense blue and white hues of the sky. The result of the initial efforts was the ‘Anti-Glare’ glasses (Luxottica). When Bausch & Lomb re-branded and launched the product in 1937 as ‘Ray-Ban Aviator’, it created two significant milestones for the eye-wear industry. It started the brand ‘Ray-Ban’, the name itself a description of its properties to ‘ban’ sunrays, and it gave the world its first ‘Aviator’ (named obviously as it was meant for pilots), firmly putting forward its value proposition. Today, the brand has firmly positioned itself as a major player in the premium eye-wear market.
Figure 1: Douglas MacArthur in Ray-Ban Aviators
The celebrities loved it:
From the 1950s through the 80s, Ray-Ban prospered on the shoulders of Hollywood actors. The Ray-Ban Wayfarer style, introduced in the ‘50s, was heavily adopted by celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Michael Jackson and Bob Dylan to name a few,building huge brand equity for Ray-Ban.
Figure 2: Ray-Ban Audrey Hepburn Ad
Following a brief slump, they were back in the 80’s when Ray-Ban entered into a contract for product placement of the glasses in TV shows and films. The 90’s again saw a slump in sales and were revived only after the original design was re-launched in 2007 (urbanoptiques.com).
In the 90’s, the golden run of Ray-Ban slowed down as its designs were increasingly seen as outdated. Bausch & Lomb, which was concentrating more on eye care products and pharmaceuticals, sold off the brand to Italian eyewear company Luxottica (Ibahrine, 2010). Luxottica almost took the brand to a hiatus and re-launched it in the second half of the 2000’s with a magnificent publicity campaign which positioned the brand as an everyday wear, brand “Never Hide”.
Out of hiding:
After remaining low for several years, the brand got a new lease of life under the Luxottica brand when it launched the massive ‘Never Hide’ campaign in 2007. Ray-Ban moved away from its association with celebrities and re-positioned its products as everyday wear rather than occasional fashion wear. The whole campaign revolved around the everyday man and his use of Ray-Ban sunglasses. Ray-Ban purposefully removed its sunglasses as the point of focus in its ads. Rather, stories of the creativity and passion of musicians, photographers, filmmakers and travelers were told. Its ads touched that nascent longing to follow one’s passion in life and make a living out of it, and it boldly announced to ‘Never Hide’ those feelings. Its sunglasses only remained in the eyes of the protagonists as they narrated their stories, never coming into the limelight. Ray-Ban encouraged users to share their own stories on their website. By connecting the brand to these stories, Ray-Ban entered the lives and aspirations of its target market more deeply than they ever could with celebrity endorsements which are prone to harmful image changes of the celebrities themselves.
Even today the ‘Never Hide’ campaign is going strong. The campaign now encompasses connecting and engaging with customers through mobile apps like ‘Reflections’, Never Hide short films and promoting music from indie bands while carrying on its legacy of Never Hide stories. These campaigns are cleverly designed to promote customer loyalty by placing the brand as a part of the lifestyle of the hip and the cool, while never overtly advertising itself. A lot of brands, specifically in the apparel and accessories industry follow this marketing mantra today, but Ray-Ban was clearly one the early adopters.
STUDENT I.D: 215182698
Ibahrine, M. 2010, ‘Principles of Advertising’, Ray Ban Creative Brief.
Luxottica, Ray-Ban: The History of the top-selling eyewear brand worldwide, retrieved 20 April 2016, < http://www.luxottica.com/sites/luxottica.com/files/ray-ban_history_en.pdf >
Urban Optiques, The Ray Ban Story, retrieved 20 April 2016, <http://www.urbanoptiques.com/eyewear/designer-eyewear/rayban/the-ray-ban-story >
Figure 1: Douglas MacArthur in Ray-Ban Aviators, retrieved 20 April 2016, <http://www.urbanoptiques.com/eyewear/designer-eyewear/rayban/the-ray-ban-story >
Figure 2: Ray-Ban Audrey Hepburn Ad, retrieved 20 April 2016, <https://juicework.wordpress.com/category/ray-ban/>
Ray Ban TV Commercial – Never Hide 2010, YouTube, gafasDsol.com, 29 Jan, retrieved 20 April 2016, < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vM4ORTCf07E>