L.A. Vision Tests Best at Vista

U.S. Eyecare Retailer Looks Beyond Quartet Near Georgia HQ
ATLANTA–Kovel/Fuller’s marketing vision was judged the best as it won Vista Eyecare Inc.’s freestanding optical stores advertising business. Annual billings are estimated at $9 million.
The Lawrenceville, Ga.-based company was known as National Vision Associates until it acquired three of its competitors last year [Adweek, Aug. 2].
NVA primarily operates its eyecare centers in retail stores, with the new acquisitions mostly stand-alone sites located in shopping and strip malls. Kovel/Fuller’s assignment is for that latter half of the business, now consolidated into one segment of the company.
The Los Angeles victor was the incumbent for New West Eye Works, one of the trio of companies purchased by NVA. The NVA incumbent, Pollak Levitt & Nel Advertising here, did not defend.
The shop bested several competitors, including Grey Advertising, Los Angeles (which previously handled Frame-n-Lens stores, also bought by NVA), and 360, Fitzgerald & Co., Fountainhead Pringle Dixon Pringle (formerly Fountainhead), and Bennett Kuhn Varner, all of Atlanta.
The latter pair of agencies are still vying for the client’s vision center business, comprised of eyecare facilities within Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores.
“[Vista] wanted complete-from-the-ground-up branding, sales and creative strategy,” explained Kovel/Fuller president Lee Kovel. “[Eyeglasses] are a medical device, as well as a fashion product. They’re fashion with a medical bent . . . fashion you can rely on.”
The shop already has a television commercial airing in select test markets, said agency chairman John Fuller. A national TV effort will break next month.
Client officials did not return calls by press time, nor did representatives of Bennett Kuhn Varner. Fountainhead Pringle Dixon Pringle principal Jim Pringle referred all calls to the client.
The win brings Kovel/Fuller’s total billings to nearly $70 million.
Vista Eyecare operates 930 stores, which are split roughly in half between the two operating units. It is the second-largest eyewear retailer in the country.
A recent company report stated the retail centers are generating most of the operation’s profits, while the freestanding sites are not performing up to expectations.