Visionworks Cleverly Uses Film Subtitles to Give Audiences an Eye Test

The campaign by Leo Burnett leans into cinematic techniques to mark Healthy Vision Month

May is Healthy Vision Month, a celebration established by the National Eye Institute in 2003. Taking note of the long history of eye care is part of the agenda, but this month is also about encouraging people to stay engaged in keeping their eyes healthy by scheduling their recommended annual exam.

To highlight the importance of regular eye check-ups, retailer Visionworks enlisted ad agency Leo Burnett to create its “Subtitles” campaign. The ad seeks to encourage better eye care habits by recreating a scenario typical for many movie and TV viewers: the act of reading subtitles.

In two cinematic 30-second shorts, one titled “Bed” and the other “Bomb Squad,” high-tension action sequences are accompanied by subtitles, which get increasingly smaller throughout the video. By the end, with our protagonists certain to meet disaster, the story cuts short to Visionworks’ parting message: “This was a test. If you couldn’t read the subtitles, schedule an exam.”

Instilling a sense of urgency

These clips lean into their point by creating a common bond between the tension experienced while watching a thriller or action film and the need to be proactive with eye care. The spots end with QR codes that link to for assistance in scheduling an appointment.

“This work aims to jolt people out of apathy. Most people say vision is their most important sense, but they convince themselves their eyes are good enough,” said Britt Nolan, president and chief creative officer of Leo Burnett.

Continuing the cinematic theme of these videos, Visionworks is extending the festivities to customers by offering a chance to win a trip to Cannes, France. This trip for four comes with $5,000 spending cash and a seven-night hotel stay.

The two “Subtitles” spots are running on linear TV, CTV and social media. Additionally, the ads will be featured in over 800 movie theaters leading into summer blockbuster season.