3 Vie for Lens Co.’s $80 Mil. Biz

Saatchi, Y&R and Euro in Contention for Consolidated Global Account
CHICAGO–Three ad agencies are competing to become Transitions Optical’s global agency, handling an account worth about $80 million in billings, sources said.
The New York offices of Saatchi & Saatchi and Young & Rubicam, plus Euro RSCG Tatham in Chicago, are spearheading the pitch efforts for their global networks, sources said.
The client’s vice president of strategic marketing, Fady Sahhar, confirmed the review, but would not identify contenders. “We’re looking for agencies that can operate on a global basis,” he said. He added that a decision is expected by May 1.
The Pinellas Park, Fla.-based company, which manufactures photochromic lenses with light-sensitive changing tints, is looking for a “global communications partner,” Sahhar said.
With sales in 46 countries and advertising done in 23 of those, Sahhar noted that the company made the decision to consolidate the global marketing strategy, which had been diffused among several agencies, at one shop.
The incumbent shops are the St. George Group, Pittsburgh; Saatchi & Saatchi, Europe; Y&R, Australia; and The Art Co., S-o Paulo, Brazil. Each of those shops also handles portions of the company’s media buying.
“We just wanted to consolidate our brand on a global basis,” Sahhar said. “We wanted to look and see if we could bring it all under one roof.”
Domestically, Transitions Optical spent about $20 million on measured media in 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
Sahhar declined comment on the budget, but said, “The CMR numbers reflect some of what we do in North America, but that’s not all that we do.”
The consolidated assignment will include fully-integrated creative, marketing services and media planning and buying, Sahhar added. “We’re looking for the whole ball of wax,” he said.
Founded in 1990, Transitions Optical is a majority-owned subsidiary of PPG Industries in Pittsburgh, a global company whose U.S. sales exceed $7.5 billion annually, according to the PPG Web site. Transitions Optical is a joint venture between PPG and Essilor International in Charenton, France.
Transitions Optical launched its lens product, Transitions Lenses, in 1991, and global expansion followed in 1993. The company has since launched five other trademarked lens brands, such as XTRActive Lenses.