Out-of-Home: 'The Urban Eye Test'

McCann Health Urban Eye Test for OCO
To make the outdoor eye test happen, the McCann team had to create weatherproof sidewalk panels, win approvals from local officials, scout appropriate landmarks at correct distances and make sure the tests were optician-approved. (McCann Health London)

Category: Out-of-Home
Winning campaign: “The Urban Eye Test” 
Client: OCO Opticians
Agency: McCann Health London

Public health awareness met outdoor quiz in the award winner for best Out-of-Home campaign. “The Urban Eye Test” created sidewalk stations in the urban-chic Shoreditch area of London to encourage people to take a different kind of eye test.

Instead of using the usual eye charts, the campaign enticed people to check their vision by reading pub signs, building labels, clock towers and billboards. Giant, brightly colored sidewalk panels in high-traffic areas directed passersby to stand on the footprints and look up to read what was in front of them. If they had difficulty doing so, they could snap an oversized QR code that led both Apple and Android users to a site where they could make an appointment at a nearby OCO Opticians store.

The simple but engaging test was an overwhelming hit. During the two weeks it ran in October 2018, OCO had to close its doors several times and put up a “no more appointments for today” sign. The number of eye appointments scheduled during the campaign run increased twelvefold over the same time period the previous year. Even more striking? One in two people who took the test made an appointment.

“We’re seeing a new phase in patient awareness activation campaigns,” said Guy Swimer, creative director at McCann Health in London. “It’s not enough to have a great idea, you’ve got to have a great idea and speak to people at a time when they might be willing to do something or when they're thinking about that particular problem.”

McCann began working on OCO’s request driving more eye-exam visits by digging into research. What they discovered surprised them. Statistics showed that while 84% of people feared losing their eyesight more than losing any other sense, 1 in 4 people in the U.K. hadn’t had an eye test in the last two years. Another 5 million said they hadn’t been tested in the previous decade or couldn’t recall their last exam at all.

It was the ideal setting for a marketing intervention. People cared about their eyesight and understood the value of an eye test, but they needed to be motivated to take action.

“When we were thinking about this particular problem about how to drive people to take an eye test, there was a truth we came back to time and again. Which is, actually, we do test our eyes all the time when we’re standing at train stations or bus stops or outside restaurants and bars," Swimer said. "We’re always asking our friends, our partners, can you see that from here?”

That notion developed into the idea for an outdoor test, but then the team faced physical and technological hurdles. They had to create weatherproof sidewalk panels, win approvals from local officials, scout appropriate landmarks at correct distances, make sure the tests were optician-approved and manage the QR code technology's integration and operability.

From the beginning, McCann also knew the idea was bigger than one optician retailer. Its agreement with OCO, in fact, specifically allowed the agency to use the idea for social health purposes after “The Urban Eye Test” ended. Ensuing press coverage drummed up so much attention that McCann is already in discussions with a large local government entity to potentially run a similar campaign for public health purposes.

“It’s just such a simple idea when you think about it, and it’s dead cost effective,” said Adrian Parr, executive creative director at McCann Health. “10,000 quid plus 12 stickers to stick on the floor. I don’t know too many advertising campaigns with that kind of conversion rate that cost 20,000 quid or so (total) and generate the sales it did. It captured people’s imagination.”

Out-of-Home: 'The Urban Eye Test'

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