The answers shape a new regional ad campaign designed to catapult market leader Ray-Ban from its old-fashioned aviator glasses image to a young and hip teen-to-twentysomething orbit.
NOT GETTING MESSAGE OUT
"The problem we have had is that in the last couple of years our designers have had trendy fashionable styles for youth, but we didn't do a good job of getting the message out," said John Loughlin, president for North Asia of Bausch & Lomb.
Ray-Ban's first pan-Asian campaign, which broke last month, targets 16-to-25-year-olds. "In the past, we have done things within each country in their own way aimed at various segments of the sunglasses consumer," Mr. Loughlin said. "This is the first time we have tried to do it all in one fashion with one image."
Ray-Ban suffers from an old-fashioned image in Asia. "It was the stuff that your father might wear," said Jamie Pfaff, executive creative director of Leo Burnett, Ray-Ban's agency.
Burnett's research into Ray-Ban's target market-young and trendy Asians with disposable incomes-found that these consumers are searching for an identity.
ASIAN GEN X
"This is a new Asian generation, our Generation X," Mr. Pfaff said. "It's a generation trying to find itself, to establish an identity, that aspires to a new way of life."
It's not the same Generation X that Western marketers are familiar with.
"Asian youth are not as rebellious," he said. "They are a lot more upbeat and more conservative. They genuinely have more respect for authority and family. They are less cynical, and not as materialistic as some people would have them be."
Ray-Ban, with its variety of styles, is being positioned to mirror this philosophical quest for identity.
"We decided to ask a series of questions, the kind of questions young people ask," Mr. Pfaff said. "Where is the ultimate, the absolute, the extreme?"
Ray-Ban ads offer answers in a series of visual possibilities that range from the serious to the provocative to the just plain funny. All end with the tag line: "Whatever you're looking for." The implication is clear: Ray-Ban has whatever you're after.
In one spot, the "where is absolute beauty" question is followed by images that range from beautiful women to horrible monsters. The family question sparks pictures ranging from a large traditional family to a family of elephants. "We included as many visual answers as we could fit into 15 seconds," Mr. Pfaff said.
Music reinforces the message: Barry White for the beauty question, a 1970's U.S. sitcom jingle for the family question.
"We are trying to talk to Asian youth in a language that they understand and relate to across the region," Mr. Loughlin said. "It's a language of music and fast-paced images."
For every image, there's a different style. New designs, priced from $75 to $150, are called Orbs and Sidestreets. Orbs have a wrap-around look; Sidestreets come in small shapes.
The campaign consists of five :15 TV commercials and five print and outdoor ads; they will run across Asia from Australia to Korea. The effort is integrated with point-of-sale merchandising in optical shops across the region.
CHINA PRIMARY TARGET
Ray-Ban's biggest markets are Australia, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Ray-Ban currently has a small presence in China, but has ambitious expansion plans there.
"In China we need to make Ray-Ban available in all the right outlets, understanding the affordability hurdles," Mr. Loughlin said. "To that end we also have sunglasses by Bausch & Lomb under the label I's by Bausch & Lomb. In China, the character translates to MY by Bausch & Lomb, and it is priced below Ray-Ban."
In creating a regional campaign, the firm had to take into account local rules and culture. Spots were filmed in Malaysia, for instance, because foreign-made commercials are not allowed on Malaysian TV. Also, Caucasians cannot appear in Malaysian TV commercials and had to be edited out. In China, a shot of a girl on a table was deemed too sexy. "The things here [in Asia] that we have to watch for are implying disrespect for authority or premarital sex," he added. "Sex is fine, but not premarital sex."
One question that never made the final cut in Asia was: "Where is the truth?" Said Mr. Pfaff: "We thought it was a little contentious for the launch."