By Pete DeLuca
Millions of people worldwide turned their attention to Copiapo, Chile last week as 33 trapped miners climbed up a specially designed steel shaft to freedom. Hundreds of members of the media were present and the rescue made headlines across the world.
The miners, who spent the last two months thousands of feet underground, were expected to experience a number of health complications upon resurfacing – among them, readjusting to natural light. The solution… ? Oakley sunglasses.
The U.S. sunglasses manufacturer was approached weeks before the rescue about the opportunity to donate the shades. Oakley was happy to oblige – donating 35 pairs of specially designed Oakley Radars scientifically engineered with Black Iridium lenses to protect sensitive eyes.
Each pair of sunglasses costs roughly $180; bringing the company’s total investment to just $6,300 – but the media attention they received as each miner surfaced wearing Oakley’s sunglasses was worth much more than that. According to some sources, the value of the publicity is estimated at approximately $41 million in TV mentions alone. That does not take into consideration the hundreds of thousands of references online, in print, and on the radio. Not bad for a $6,300 investment.
Of course, the donation received criticism from people who questioned whether or not the sunglasses were a genuine charitable donation or a creative attempt to capitalize on the media attention surrounding the Chilean miners. Oakley did not benefit financially from the donation and insists that the story was leaked to the media.
Charitable donation or creative marketing ploy? Or maybe it’s both. The miners were at risk for permanent retina damage and eye protection became necessary. Oakley recognized this opportunity and made a perfectly reasonable donation. They seized the moment, and because of that, will be forever linked with this historical event.