Arts: The team that really gets this vision thing

No 199: VISION EXPRESS
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The Independent Culture
Some advertising isn't that bothered about reaching 99 per cent of its ostensible audience. It's worried about a target audience of one per cent or less. Sometimes that one per cent is "the City"; sometimes it's "opinion-formers". And sometimes, it's the advertiser's own employees.

Vision Express, a chain of opticians, seems to see its shop staff as a crucial audience. Its commercial hopes to help them "bond", to raise their morale and make sure they're on-message with customers.

I don't know where the boss's name - Reade Fahs - comes from, but he looks and sounds like he come from Utah. Toothy, short-haired and white- button-down-shirt-sleeved, he looks like a pillar of the Mormon Community Business Initiative. And what he says is the sort of thing such people say in company internal videos: today, he'd like to address his thousands of colleagues on the Vision Express team. It's a big day because it's the launch of the new advertising, which stars real Vision Express people, Darren, Karen and Helen. He's proud of the ads; he's proud of the people. Keep on doing what you're doing - the customers really like it.

Then we meet Helen the Frame Stylist - I'm not clear on what "Frame Stylist" means either. She explains how thorough, passionate and hi- tech the VE opticians are, and how the whole thing couldn't work without them. Then, we see the opticians doing their thorough, passionate, hi- tech things. And we get a glimpse of a plump young man in a white coat.

This is Darren, the star of the next commercial. Darren takes a pride in his work, and he takes a pride in his white coat. He enjoys working at Vision Express, where we work together as a team. Darren the Adorable Anorak is completely on-message.

It's very cost-effective, getting all your staff to watch TV at a given moment - cheaper than bussing them to Birmingham. But of course we're intended to see it too, and to think what a wonderful bunch they all are.

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