Pearle Vision Launches Major National Re-Branding Campaign


MASON, Ohio—After more than half a century “caring for eyes,” one of the most iconic names in optical retail, Pearle Vision, a division of Luxottica Retail (NYSE: LUX), is in the process of redefining its brand identity. The new branding includes a new logo, website, which are now active, and a multimillion dollar  television advertising campaign, to launch on Monday, April 22, to be translated this year to all of its more than 600 corporate and licensed locations. Later this summer, two new redesigned prototype Pearle Vision eyecare centers, will debut as well, executives said.

“It really is a new day at Pearle,” Doug Zarkin, VP, marketing, told VMail, emphasizing that “Pearle is not changing; this is an evolution.” He explained that the company is re-establishing its focus on “eyecare first, glasses second” created by Stanley Pearle, OD, when he founded the company in 1961. The objective is to present each Pearle Vision location as being a part of the “neighborhood, vested in me as a person and as a patient,” he said. The new Pearle Vision logo reflects the theme “Genuine Eyecare” and reinforces the history of the brand, established in 1961, and takes on what Zarkin describes as “almost an apothecary” message in its eyeglass graphic.

This is reflected throughout the newly organized website, which launched earlier this week on Wednesday, April17, and the advertising campaign, which will begin broadcasting nationally Monday on both network and cable television. Imagery of intimate family moments and doctors providing eyecare in the television ads reinforce the neighborhood message.

The website further reinforces the sense of community by bringing visitors who enter their zip code to a standalone site for their closest location while it also encourages them to make an appointment by immediately indicating what times are open on the schedule. Among the ways Pearle intends to further drive traffic to its site is via social media, which has received renewed attention and has exploded for the company in 2013 to date. For example, Zarkin pointed out, likes on Facebook started the year at 7,000 and now stand at 60,000.

Doug Zarkin, VP of marketing for
Pearle Vision.
Internal nomenclature and work on the structure of the organization and its operations has changed as well, “to pay homage to our doctor partners,” Zarkin told VMail. Franchisees are now referred to as licensed operators and Pearle’s stores are now called eyecare centers. “As a franchisor, you are ‘telling,’ but as a licensor, you are ‘partnering,’” he explained, referring to the company’s cultural change and its upcoming expansion efforts.

Earlier this year, Pearle announced its expansion plans in the U.S., which includes re-licensing 34 locations in 10 states, converting them from corporate owned to licensed operations, as reported by VMail, Jan. 21, 2013. Currently, about 65 percent of Pearle’s more than 600 stores are licensed operations, owned by a variety of optometrists, opticians and business owners.

Zarkin told VMail that there are “several rich markets for us to grow in where we are pursuing a full recruitment effort.” He sees operating a Pearle Vision licensed eyecare center as “an attractive opportunity for doctors graduating from optometry school.” He concluded, “Our future is in licensed operators.”

This turnaround began when Pearle Vision named Srinivas Kumar, formerly president and COO of Baskin-Robbins International, senior VP and GM, in January 2012 (see Vision Monday’s exclusive interview.) Kumar then put together a team which includes Zarkin, whose experience includes marketing leadership positions with Limited Brands and Avon Products, and Michael Redd, VP, operations, formerly of franchising companies McDonald’s and Dominoes.

The next step in the chain-wide re-branding will take place this summer when Pearle begins rolling out its redesigned eyecare centers with two full ground-up build-outs, first with a licensed operation in the New York metropolitan area followed by a corporate location in the Midwest.