Italy's 2007 campaign to promote progressive lenses was in full swing during MIDO. Meanwhile, the ?vision communication consortium? promoted by ANFAO, the Italian industry association for the eyewear sector, is analyzing the striking results achieved by last year's campaign. It was a massive media operation designed to persuade the public to choose progressive lenses as prescription eyewear, and to raise the proportion of progressive lenses sold in the Italian market from 11 percent to the European average of 17 percent.

Italian opticians were invited to contribute to the operation, funded by a consortium of leading lens manufacturers, by paying to it one euro for every progressive lens sold during the promotion period, i.e. two euros for every pair of glasses. The campaign consisted of an initial phase of ads in the optical trade press, and a second phase aimed at the consumer with TV spots and ads in the general printed press.

Compared with 2005, sales of progressive lenses for the first two months of 2006 rose by 9 percent, followed by a relatively modest rise during the summer period. The campaign ended with a surge of 15.7 percent in October and 17.8 percent in November, the months in which the pressure on the final consumer was strongest. More precisely, after the first months of the 2006 campaign sales of progressive lenses amounted to 145,000 compared to around 132,000 in 2005. In October 2006 the figure rose to 160,000 compared to 140,000 the previous year, and in November 2006 sales totaled 150,000 compared to the 135,000 sold in November 2005. In total, the campaign thus triggered sales of 48,000 progressive lenses, meaning that over 20,000 consumers were persuaded to buy progressive lenses.

By the end of 2006, 3,500 optical outlets had taken part in the campaign, and the euros paid in for every sale contributed €350,000 to the financing of the operation. The companies belonging to the consortium had contributed €1 million to the fund set up to finance the campaign. All in all, the funds raised reached the target set for the operation.

The consortium, called Consorzio Comunicazione Vista, groups ATR Mec Optical srl, Avanti Italiana SpA, Carl Zeiss Vision Italia SpA, Essilor Italia SpA, Hoya Lens Italia SpA, Oftalmica Galileo Italia SpA, Optilens Italia srl, Optovista SpA and Rodenstock Italia SpA. MIDO is also a partner, and the consortium operates in partnership with the various eyewear associations: ANFAO, the eyewear manufacturers' association, Assogruppi Ottica, the association of buying groups, Federottica, the association of optometric opticians, AIO, the Italian opticians' association, and ANDOM, the association of optical chains.

Questioned on the subject during MIDO, all the firms that took part in the operation were in favor of the official campaign going on as the campaign had had a positive impact on their sales. They pointed out, however, that their own individual promotional efforts had contributed to the results. Many agreed to give special discounts to some of the big chains and buying groups to back up the campaign with price promotions.

Essilor, which claims a share of 25 percent in the Italian market for progressive lenses, is confident that the market will come into line with the rest of Europe in 3 to 4 years' time.