Safilo has made a bold move to stamp its mark on the national eyewear market with the signing on of Australian Test and One Day International cricket captain Pat Cummins as an ambassador of its proprietary eyewear brand, Carrera.
When Mr John Howard was the Australian Prime Minister in the late nineties to early noughties, he once quipped he held the second-most important job in the country. The top job, he said, really belonged to the captain of the Australian cricket team – a leader among leaders who can inspire a nation.
Today, that mantle belongs to Mr Pat Cummins, considered one of, if not the best, bowler in world cricket. Deemed the most marketable athlete in Australia, he also demonstrates a daring, bold attitude on the field, while standing up for issues like sustainability.
For the Carrera eyewear brand – a proprietary label of global eyewear company Safilo – Cummins embodies many of the qualities that make the brand so popular among Australians. As such, Safilo and Cummins have signed a new ambassador deal that will see the international cricket star wear and promote Carrera eyewear off the field, in a major boon for Safilo’s main customer-base: independent optical practices.
A photo shoot took place between Cummins’ cricket commitments in Sydney in early September with him wearing Carrera optical and sunglasses. The images will be made available for point-of-sale marketing and window displays in practices that sign-on to participate in the campaign, with Safilo also planning a national out-of-home advertising campaign to run in Australia and other markets.
Mr David Pearson, who oversees Safilo’s Asia Pacific operations and returned from Singapore to Sydney two years ago, says Carrera is Safilo’s strongest brand in the Australian market – and by collaborating with Cummins over the coming years he hopes to take the brand to new heights.
It’s also an example of Safilo’s unique position as a global eyewear company with the agility to localise its strategy in markets like Australia.
“We’re excited about what the Carrera collaboration with Pat Cummins will do for independent optical practices in Australia,” he says. “Some people have the perception we’re a big multinational, but we are rooted and invested in Australia. It’s a line in the sand moment for us here and I think we are the only company that’s made a bold effort to invest in local talent to promote global brands on this scale.
“This will be something that can help practices spark conversations with their patients and is something no other eyewear brand is offering. He’s been named Australia’s most marketable athlete this year and will drive traffic into optical stores.”
Pearson says Carrera eyewear has been a strong performer in the sunglass channel for some time and has grown significantly in its optical collections. It’s distinguishable by bold styles and shapes, and has generated a loyal following.
“The Carrera optical collections have gone from strength-to-strength in the last three to four years. They include good commercial styles with some distinctive design elements. It’s become a staple for independents, a well-recognised brand that is competitively priced and considered accessible fashion. It stands for something, but at the same time isn’t for everyone. It’s for people that want to stand out,” he says.
“It’s also instantly recognisable with the branding located on the nose piece, which is against industry norms, but that’s the point.”
Much more than a cricketer
Pearson says the brand ethos fits nicely with the profile Cummins has built over his career. In addition to being incredibly photogenic (Pearson says almost every style he tried on looked great), he goes about his business in a daring and bold manner, offset with trademark Aussie humility. He’s also a spectacle wearer, as seen off-field in The Test series on Amazon, offering a behind-the-scenes account of the Australian men’s cricket team. Cummins can also be seen wearing glasses on his Instagram feed, another platform where he will promote Carrera eyewear to more than 1.2 million followers.
“He also stands for sustainability and the environment, and that’s something that our company is on the journey with. As a company and the Carrera brand, we aren’t perfect, but we are working on it and it’s great to have alignment in that regard,” Pearson adds.
The partnership will be centred on “Pat the person, rather than the cricketer”, Pearson explains. This will mean the campaign will be more lifestyle focused, but in saying that Cummins has just started wearing another Safilo brand, SMITH Optics, on the cricket oval.
Interestingly, Cummins has history with the Carrera brand and once appeared on the cover of David Jones magazine in a pair of sunglasses from a previous collection.
“Carrera is a really strong global fashion brand and that fits well with who Pat is and where he’s going,” Pearson says. “He’s much more than a cricketer, he’s a businessman, a family man – he has many sides to him. This is the person who has got a whole lot more to offer the world.”
Pearson expects the campaign to have the biggest impact in Australia and India, another market that’s important to Carrera eyewear. In fact, his Carrera collaboration was unveiled at a launch event on 5 October in India, dovetailing with the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 that also began that day.
In the images, he is wearing eyewear from the most current and previous Carrera collections. Some standouts from the photoshoot see him sporting the 8885 model (optical) and the 8064 (sunglass).
“We’ve also got a couple of more edgy shots with him wearing classic Carrera-designed eyewear with the traditional logo position. The photoshoot looks incredible and we’re very excited to show the market,” Pearson says.
The collaboration is expected to run over several years. Whether this results in a Pat Cummins collection in future is not yet known, but Pearson says both parties are excited about what the partnership will bring. For now, it’s expected the out-of-home advertising will be placed on platforms like bus shelters and buses in local areas. For practices, they can expect access to various marketing materials, with around nine images selected from the photoshoot.
“For us, that was one of the important parts of the collaboration, that we’ve got great images we can put in store. We’ve got a point-of-sale and window campaign that all our customers stocking Carrera can use,” he says.
“It’ll be something interesting optometrists, dispensers and other practice staff can talk about with their patients when it comes to selecting eyewear, and is just in time for the Australian summer season.”