A BIG, FAT, VIRAL EYE-DEA

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It’s curious how some things (ideas, products, people, concepts, etc.) catch on and spread while others simply die on the vine. How is it that a new restaurant becomes hot while a comparable restaurant just around the corner can’t give food away?

In his terrific book, Contagious, author Jonah Berger tackles what he effectively sums up as the science of virality, pointing out that there are six factors that influence the stickiness of something. One of the key factors is called “triggers.”

Triggers are those small associations we make, often subconsciously, when we encounter a symbol or image that brings the association to mind. For example, peanut butter may make you think of jelly or the Nike “swoosh” may make you think of athletic shoes.

In fact, there are triggers around us all the time. A picture of a celebrity in the newspaper might bring to mind the TV show that he or she stars in or the sight of the Golden Arches may stimulate one’s desire for lunch.

Many causes have spread thanks to triggers. When Lance Armstrong introduced the “Live Strong” rubber bracelet, he elevated awareness for cancer. The Susan G. Komen Foundation did the same thing for breast cancer with the small pink lapel ribbon-which morphed into an even broader application of the color to keep breast cancer top-of-mind. A few summers ago, people were willingly creating YouTube videos of themselves being deluged with buckets of ice water to build awareness for ALS.

There are myriad examples of effective triggers to spread the word, and the cause. But what about vision care? What trigger exists to remind people to think about eye health and vision correction? A picture of a phoropter? Nope. In fact, eye health has no readily recognizable triggers to make people remember to visit their local ECP. But what if one was invented to do just that?

Like the “Live Strong” bracelet and the pink ribbon, what if vision care had its own icon? How about, for example, a lapel pin that featured a single illustration of an eye?And what if the entirety of the optical industry and professions all wore those pins for a certain, prescribed period of time?


For example, the Centers for Disease Control and the Vision Health Institute have tagged May as “Healthy Vision Month.” What if the optical citizenry all (or nearly all) wore the “eye” pin for those thirty-one days? That would certainly get noticed. Imagine strangers approaching you to ask about the unusual image adorning your shirt or jacket-now that would be viral.

Ours is a health care category that is, candidly, very under-marketed. Let’s all do something about that.

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