Perfect Partnerships: Transitions Optical Redefines the Concept

By Paddy Kamen

event_transitionsThe concept of partnership is absolutely intrinsic to Transitions Optical, Inc. The leader in photochromic lens technology has brought their product to market in partnership with every major lens manufacturer on the planet. They could have left it at that but they also saw the need to build solid partnerships with eyecare professionals and have done so in spades, providing superior educational opportunities for ECPs in the form of online initiatives, on-the-ground educational tours and the annual Transitions Academy, along with wonderful point-of-purchase materials.

The public advertising campaigns undertaken by Transitions Optical have further supported partnerships with manufacturers and professionals by reaching out to educate consumers about lenses in general and photochromics in particular, in historically unprecedented ways. It’s no accident that so many consumers now know about photochromic technology and consider Transitions® lenses to be a synonym for it.

In 2008, Transitions Optical began a new partnership that has achieved incredible results for all the partners: a four-year title sponsorship of the PGA TOUR event at the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Palm Harbor, Florida. The Transitions Championship® was an unbounded success from every possible point of view.

Professional golf is an elite game and the PGA TOUR is affiliated with many other premium brands, including MasterCard, Rolex, Cadillac, HSBC and RBC. Choosing attractive partners who want to be associated with such a classy game certainly helps a sponsorship along!

Connie Falvo, director of external affairs for Transitions Optical, spoke with Envision: seeing beyond magazine about the PGA TOUR sponsorship.

“This relationship opened up a network of consumers who may not have otherwise known about Transitions lenses,” Falvo explained. “We reached the avid golfer, the occasional golfer and even the non-golfer who loves to watch the sport on television and see the famous players. The fact that vision is critical for any sports activity, including golf, and the fact that golfers are out in the sun so much made it an obvious choice.”

The reach of media impressions for the Transitions Championship PGA TOUR event is mind-boggling. More than 800,000,000 impressions were achieved through the third year of the tournament, and over all four years of the Championship more than one billion impressions were made. Internationally, the tournament was broadcast into 500 million households in 209 countries around the globe.

The number of visitors to the tournament increased every year and the 2012 event (Mar. 12-14), which marked the conclusion of the four-year agreement, attracted more than 55,000 visitors. Several Transitions-sponsored events at the tournament reinforced for consumers the connection between healthy vision and sports performance – as well as the ability to enjoy life’s everyday moments. With the support of industry partners, Transitions Optical introduced spectators to new products and eye health information, and kicked off its Official Sponsor of Sightseeing™ campaign.

“Our goal for the Transitions Championship has always been to increase awareness about healthy sight, and because of the ways our partners have rallied around the tournament, we’ve been able to add more excitement and expand our impact among consumers each year,” said Dave Cole, president, Transitions Optical. “While cheering on some of the world’s top-ranked golfers on the course is certainly a highlight, the family-friendly activities going on throughout the tournament week helped us keep eye health at the forefront.”

Not everyone realizes the number of charities that benefit from PGA TOUR events. The 2012 Transitions Championship week kicked off this year with the Think About Your Eyes Family Walk on Sunday, March 11, where families walked the Copperhead Course and raised more than $40,000 for Prevent Blindness Florida and its community outreach and education efforts. Jay Tobin, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness Florida, said, “The Transitions Championship and Think About Your Eyes Family Walk have dramatically increased public awareness of Prevent Blindness Florida and the importance of healthy sight for life. Additionally, with the funds raised from the walk, we have been able to expand our outreach to at-risk adults and children in the Tampa Bay area by providing free vision screenings, eye exams and glasses.”

Over the four years of the Transitions Championship, total funds raised for charity are expected to exceed $7 million dollars!

Partnerships are only as successful as the effort put into them and in this respect, Transitions Optical really shone for the PGA TOUR. Falvo notes, “We were told early last year that Transitions Optical led all title sponsors in terms of execution of the relationship and I was asked to present to a group of other sponsors on everything we did to make the most of the opportunity. That was an honour and very satisfying for everyone who has helped make the partnership such an outstanding success.”

Part of the success around the activation of the partnership was in the signing of PGA TOUR professional golfers as brand ambassadors for Transitions Optical, including American golfer and 14-time winner on the PGA TOUR Kenny Perry, South African golfer and 2008 Masters Champion Trevor Immelman and Canadian golfers Graham DeLaet and Ian Leggatt. “We were able to use their names and likenesses and they did all kinds of public relations work for us,” notes Falvo.

Going forward, Falvo says the Transitions Optical executive team is looking at opportunities for further sponsorships in the sports arena. “I can’t share any details at this point but we may be considering other ways to leverage the equity we’ve built here. I can say that because of the splash we made in the golf community, we’ve had non-stop calls from other highly visible brands who want to talk about partnerships.”

While the Transitions Optical title sponsorship agreement has concluded, the company remains an official marketing partner with the PGA TOUR and the Official Eyewear of the PGA TOUR, Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour.

And because things never stand still at Transitions Optical there are also exciting new product offerings, including the first and only variable polarization lenses –Transitions® Vantage™ lenses – the only lenses that both darken and polarize upon UV exposure. Another very special sunwear product that was available at the championship – and is now on the market – is the new Nike® MAX Transitions® sunglass, designed especially for golf. These sunglasses feature a patented violet tint, engineered to enhance contour recognition on the greens and to increase visibility of the ball.

“Quite simply – these sunglasses are a game changer,” said Grady Lenski, global director with Transitions Sunwear. “By combining the best-in-class brand leadership of Nike with Transitions adaptive sun lenses, athletes and sport enthusiasts now have another important piece of equipment to help them up their game.”

‘Partnership’ is a word that is bandied about far too carelessly in today’s business world. Let’s hear it for Transitions Optical, a company that makes the word sing in every possible way, creating win-win relationships that build business success for all.