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This is a self-funded case study using our Ad Testing solution which is now available in Canada.
Earlier in the year, UK-founded Specsavers announced an ambitious plan to launch into the Canadian marketplace and open 200 stores by the end of 2024. To support this rapid expansion the brand released a new cross-platform campaign titled ‘That’s Specsavers Love’.
Your initial thought — particularly if you live in the UK or Australia — might’ve been to question why the brand didn’t instead leverage its iconic ‘Should’ve gone to…’ campaign — something we’ve repeatedly lauded for its consistency, having become a part of everyday British vernacular.
The Canadian spot still contained a healthy dose of its parent company’s quintessentially British humor, with ‘That’s Specsavers Love’ featuring a variety of glass-wearers sensually looking directly at camera. The opening line subverts expectations by stating that: “Eyes are the window to the soul. We (Specsavers) say they’re a window to early signs of retinal disorders”.
Acknowledging that — in some respects — each campaign is designed to solve different business challenges, we tested the Canadian launch spot against the brand’s latest UK release to see how it fared. The 3Cs are the keys to creative effectiveness:
Specsavers utilized humor and a mellow backing track to engage viewers and make the brand a little more personable. The shift in tone from seductive to serious made for a unique story, leaving people feeling inspired. However, the juxtaposition between healthcare and romance also created some annoyance; quite a shift from the typically fun and irreverent approach deployed in the UK.
Without the well-entrenched cues afforded to the brand in the UK, ‘That’s Specsavers Love’ needed to instead prioritize Specsavers as the focal point of the narrative. With the storyline built around good eye-health, the brand played a facilitatory role in addressing each character’s needs. However, waiting until the end of the story to reveal the name behind ‘we’ in the voiceover did unnecessarily draw out the suspense and hinder attribution — compounded by the brand’s relative anonymity.
Being in an entirely different life stage meant ‘That’s Specsavers Love’ set out to convey a greater volume of new information than is typical of the brand’s UK advertising. However, the campaign didn’t succeed in leaving people with a clear and single-minded impression of the brand. While the quirky romance theme certainly stood out (and provided a platform that could be built upon), the somewhat anxiety-inducing look at a range of peculiar customers didn’t do a great job of promoting positive feelings toward Specsavers.
Bill Moir, General Manager of Specsavers, sees Canada as being culturally “more in line with some of the other markets (they) already operate successfully in like Australia and the UK”. With this in mind, the brand set out to leverage Specsavers’ much-loved British humor while adapting other elements to suit the local context.
And while it’s a solid start for the Canadian arm, there’s a little bit of us which wonders what might’ve been if the ‘Should’ve gone to…’ platform was adopted instead. It’s a phrase which has quickly made its way into mainstream vernacular in the countries it’s been deployed, with the humor utilized transcending global boundaries. Its cultural power has also enabled it to quickly transform into an unmistakable branding property.
With consistency and developing ownable branding properties an area where we see a lot of advertisers struggle, an opportunity is potentially being missed by not leveraging the equity (and proven ability) of this 20 year old asset.