The campaign, with a tentative budget said to be between €5 and €6 million over a 3-year period, will be funded by SILMO, the growing and successful international fair held in Paris in October, which is sponsored by the French eyewear industry. It's not specifically designed to promote French products, but like an older and successful Spanish campaign and certain initiatives taken occasionally in the UK and Germany, it's meant to incite the French people to spend more and more frequently on vision correction and on stylish frames.

The management of SILMO hopes that French retailers will agree to join in the financing of this generalist campaign at a later stage, as their Spanish colleagues are doing already, instead of spending money on advertisements that often associate their banners with price promotions.

The French campaign will start at the end of this month with an interesting and clever twist to it. A colored paper belt wrapped around some of the major consumer magazines in France will send out subtle messages to the readers that are humorously related to the subject of the publication. For example, a magazine on gardening will invite them to change their glasses as often as when they trim down their trees. A magazine on cooking asks them why they wear the same pair of glasses while changing recipes all the time. A youth cult magazine suggests that it would be inappropriate for its readers to use an old pair of glasses ? and so on.

Broad-circulation magazines like Elle, Paris Match and Science & Vie will carry these strips, catching the consumers' attention in their leisure time. Similar themes are being taken up also on a new website, www.changezdelunettes.com (French for ?change glasses?), that gives information on prescriptions, social security benefits, developments in eyewear fashion and so on. Here, there are also sub-sections on SILMO is on the French frame manufacturers exhibiting at the fair, with hyperlinks to their own websites.

The new French consumer promotion campaign was badly needed in a country where the average replacement rate a frame has grown from 3 to 4 years, as compared to about one year for Americans, 2 years for the British, 2.5 years for the Italians and 3.5 years for the Germans. Only 31 percent of those who wear glasses own 2 pairs and only 9 percent of them own more than 2, leaving the French average at about 1.5 frames per person in need of vision correction.