Chilean Miners Wear Oakley Sunglasses

Trapped in a mine for 69 days, on October 14, 2010 the Chilean miners emerged each sporting their own pair of Oakley brand sunglasses. For some, the large amount of trademark Oakley O’s at the scene shifted the attention away from the miraculous event. The rescue attracted an estimated 41 million television viewers alone, leading to one question: should this be considered a prime example of good product placement or is it simply poor taste on behalf of Oakley?

Let it be known that, as PR people, we understand that our task is to maintain, create or protect an image. With that said, was the task of Oakley’s PR people successfully completed?  Sure, there would be a great deal of publicity if Lady Gaga was photographed wearing the latest pair of Oakley sunglasses, however would it be positive publicity? It would most likely garner the attention of celeb-loving teens everywhere but would it add to Oakley’s image?

In defense of the CNBC article about the controversial link between the miners’ story and the Oakley brand, the company stated that they were approached by a Chilean journalist who recommended the idea. Agreeing, Oakley chose to donate 35 pairs of Radar Black Iridium shades to help protect the miners’ eyes from the sun after spending two months underground.

Photo from FOX NY

Oakley’s PR move brought an enormous amount of media attention to the company and in an incredibly positive way. Both the condition of the miners and the rescue itself was highly anticipated. Oakley recognized this as an opportunity to do good while receiving positive media coverage.

For those who feel that Oakley just took advantage of the rescue situation, take a look at Oakley’s statement in response to the CNBC article, “Our hearts are with the rescue team and miners as we hope for a joyous end to the crisis.”  Perhaps the initial PR move could be labeled as a questionable one, but the fact is that they were quick to reassert their image by explaining the reason for the generous donation. It was based simply on Oakley’s desire to contribute to the rescue efforts.

And you have to admit, this is an example of  PR done right.


Melissa Louis-Jacques
Junior Music Merchandising Major and Public Relations Minor


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