Digital & Social Media

Four Eyes Focus on Skype

Four Eyes Focus on Skype
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Who’s Got Good Looks?

UK glasses retailer Specsavers has launched a feature that lets people enter its annual Spectacle Wearer of the Year competition directly via Skype.

Since 2007, Specsavers has held a yearly competition to find the people who really are champs at looking good in glasses. This year the brand has launched banner ads on Skype, inviting users of the Microsoft-owned Voice Over Internet Protocol service to enter the competition by simply activating their webcam and recording an image of themselves wearing their specs. The public will determine the Spectacle Wearer of the Year via an online vote.

Specsavers hopes that the partnership with Microsoft will make this year’s contest the biggest yet, in terms of entries. People will be encouraged to enter via Skype’s homepage and MSN banner ads. Manning Gottlieb OMD came up with the idea for the promotion.

Contagious and Childs Weigh In

Contagious: This marks the first time a brand has teamed up with Skype in the UK for an advertising campaign. The key point here is the low barrier to entry: All it requires is a click on the banner ad to instantly activate the webcam and pose. The contest format is automatically displayed.

This campaign shows a potential use for Skype in advertising, but it is a slight shame the Specsavers competition ends with a standard photo submission. We feel Specsavers could have gone further and tapped into Skype’s natural social function. The glasses brand could also have made better use of Skype’s video technology; for example, it could have encouraged non-glasses wearers to try on styles by generating images of glasses projected onto the user, a la Warby Parker.

Microsoft recently reported 44 million Skype users, with stats suggesting the majority of users are 25 to 54, relatively well off, and accustomed to online shopping. It makes sense therefore that Specsavers gains a solid foothold among its target audience with this campaign. From the user’s perspective, the campaign raises the question about how Skype will use ads during calls. The brand has promised silent on-screen ads during free calls – labeled innocuously as ‘conversation starters’ – that will be generated via user data (with an opt-out facility available). It will be interesting to see how advertisers navigate the path between privacy and sociability to create a fun or relevant proposition, without making users feel like their personal conversation time is being ambushed.

Nick Childs: Specsavers may have scored the first-ever use of Skype in advertising in the UK, but the promotion idea itself is just a little too plain to really grab attention in a social world.

Lately, marketers are far too often eyeing the most recent innovative social platform – Pinterest, Instagram, Vine – in hopes that a one-off idea will link their brand to millions of connected users. The issue is the idea has to play to what makes that platform unique. Which is where Specsavers fell short.

Should we be thinking of how an idea works across every digital touchpoint? No. We need to figure out which platform suits a particular idea to produce a clear, engaging and highly shareable brand message. In this case, the focus was all on the platform and not on the idea which is, in essence, already six years old. Banner ads on Skype connecting vision-impaired people to a contest to show how their glasses already look on them is interesting, but certainly could be more focused. How about a digital offer to show friends a new look with frames you don’t own yet? Allow others to pick something out for you on Skype? Or offer discounts to buy additional pairs depending on the number of people with whom you share your new look or who “like” the new you? These ideas still wrap around the core offering of Skype – “seeing and sharing with others, wherever they may be” – and actually might sell some glasses. After all, with the advent of brands offering inexpensive, one-for-all hipster frames, and the rise of “nerd” fashion in which athletes are sporting glasses with clear lenses, shouldn’t anyone in the UK show off how they look in Specsavers, even if they happen to be afflicted with 20/20 vision?

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About the author

This article was syndicated from Contagious Feed, an indispensable resource to the marketing communications industry focusing on competitive intelligence, best practices, new technology and consumer behavior. In addition to the flagship quarterly publication, app and Feed, Contagious has developed a consultancy and a series of world-class conferences, including its annual Most Contagious event.

Nick Childs is the executive creative director for FleishmanHillard, working out of the New York office. He has been with the company since 2011 after a career in advertising that included Grey and other high-profile agencies.