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BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- You might have seen the unbranded advertisement on television -- the lights, lenses and models with new eye frames. The teaser has been running for the past week, with nothing but a three-word hint: "Evolve your eyes."
The full ad, revealing the company it represents, begins running today, most prominently with a spot in tonight's NBC 13's broadcast of the Super Bowl. Schaeffer Eye Center is launching the new campaign, created by Big Communications, with one of the few local ads spots aired on the Birmingham NBC affiliate during the game.
"We don't just improve vision," Jack Schaeffer, the company's president, says in the commercial. "We help shape the way the world sees you."
The campaign has been in development for the past six months and uses lots of local talent -- models, locations, videography and advertising. Filming took place over three days last month and content will be pared down to a 30-second, a one-minute and a two-minute advertisement.
Ford Wiles, creative director at Big Communications, said the campaign aims to captures the essence of the Schaeffer brand. When they first spoke, Schaeffer wanted to do an advertisement based on the theme of medicine. Big wanted to focus on the idea of science and style. In the end, the ideas got combined.
"With all the eyeballs on the Super Bowl, it only makes sense to highlight a company that treats eyes," said Ford Wiles, creative director at Big.
He said the campaign highlighting aspects of what Schaeffer's brand is all about -- style, science and service. Each of three television ads will focus on one of those themes. This first one is all about style. The next will be about treatment for eye diseases. The third will highlight service.
When the ad team at Big initially pitched the idea of branding Schaeffer Eye Center as a center of fashion, Schaeffer admitted he didn't like it. The company's flagship store has 3,300 varieties of frames, while others have an average of 2,500. But for Schaeffer the problem was obvious. "We're not a clothing store," he said.
The idea, however, grew on him. And, in a way that he says is uncharacteristic, Schaeffer handed over most of the reins to Big's creative types for the campaign's development. Between the work that he knew Big could do and the desire to keep everything local, Schaeffer said it was pretty easy to choose Big from among the five advertising firms he considered, some of which were local and others national.
A few months ago, NBC 13 contacted Schaeffer's office to see if he'd be interested in having one of the few allotted openings the channel had for local ads during the Super Bowl. At first, he doubted it because of the price, which he declined to disclose. At that point, he had already been planning to shoot new ads with Big. The only way he'd consider a Super Bowl slot was if Big's team could get an ad done and done well in time.
Schaeffer, who's become a familiar face on television ads for the company over the years, said he would have never considered using one of his old ads for a Super Bowl spot.
Gene Kirkconnell, president and general manager of NBC 13, said the stations has a long-standing relationship both with Schaeffer Eye Center and Big, both through advertising on the station and also through the annual crawfish boil, which involved all the companies. Kirkconnell had heard about Schaeffer's new creative campaign and thought airing it during the game would be a good fit.
"Dr. Schaeffer is really open to coming up with new and interesting ways to tell his story," Kirkconnell said.
This is the first television ad Schaeffer has done with Big since the firm developed a campaign in 1996 for Schaeffer Laser Vision, when that company was located near Carraway Medical Center. One of the filming locations in the new campaign is the underpass at Interstate 59 and U.S. 31 in downtown Birmingham, not far from where the center used to be.
Wiles said a good campaign always captures the essence of a brand.
"It has legs. It has life. It generates and spawns a new idea," he said.
Much of the filming was done on WorkPlay's Soundstage. Schaeffer said he found the filming for these ads especially exciting. WorkPlay was transformed to portray a fashion show, with models highlighting various frames, along with some scenes taking place in downtown Birmingham. His favorite part was watching the campaign being shot, work done by Six Foot Five, a Birmingham film production company.
"If I didn't have to see patients, I would have stayed for all three days and watched every bit of it," he said.
Schaeffer said he hopes the campaign won't be appealing just for potential and current customers, but also for his staff of 120 people. The company has 15 locations in the state, including locations in Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, Huntsville and 10 in the Birmingham metro area.
Just as the commercial implies viewers should evolve their eyes, he says the plan is to evolve the company. He hopes to see a metamorphosis in Schaeffer Eye Center. He said the commercials inspire the company's staff, including himself, to work harder and happier.
Branding means nothing if you can't follow it internally, he said.
"This Sunday, I'll be the most excited person watching TV," Schaeffer said. "And not for what it could do, but for what's already been done."
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