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mitch devine

Oakley and the Chilean Miners: Doing Well By Doing Good

Guest Post by Mitch Devine

Move over, Lance Armstrong. Oakley has 33 new “celebrity” product endorsers.

Unless you were trapped in a cave somewhere yourself over the last few weeks, you’ve heard about the dramatic rescue of 33 Chilean miners who were trapped underground for 69 days.

Fortunately they escaped, with a little help from their friends and a few corporate sponsors.

Doing Well By Doing Good

At the same time Chris Brogan was speaking to Linked OC members at Oakley about how companies are using technology to connect with consumers, the Chilean miners were reconnecting with their families thanks to technology donated by Oakley and others.

Oakley posted an update on its website the following day:

A few weeks ago, Oakley was contacted by Jonathan Franklin, a journalist who works for Addict Village, a boutique media agency in Santiago, Chile. Mr. Franklin was covering the rescue efforts and had recommended Oakley to the Chilean private health insurer, known as ACHS “Association Chilena de Seguridad,” for eyewear protection for the miners once they surfaced.

Based on their requirements and full product specifications, Oakley donated 35 pairs of Oakley Radar® with Black Iridium® lenses in Path™ and Range® lens shapes for the miners who will need the protection of Oakley sunglasses as their eyes return to normal. Minister of Mining Laurence Golborne (who is leading the rescue) has asked to wear one of the extra pairs to show solidarity.

Philanthropy or Product Placement?

The glasses retail for $180 each. The value of the publicity? Priceless. Or very nearly so. CNBC reports:

In worldwide television impact alone, Oakley garnered $41 million in equivalent advertising time, according to research done for CNBC from Front Row Analytics, a sponsorship evaluation firm.

Front Row broke the exposure down by country. Oakley will get the most exposure in China ($11.7 million), $6.4 million in the United States, $898,000 in the United Kingdom and $703,000 in Chile.

Saved by Capitalism

Oakley was one of the more visible (pardon the pun) brands donating to the rescue effort, but they weren’t alone.

The drill bit was developed by Center Rock, Inc. and the drill’s rig came from Schramm Inc., both of Pennsylvania. A company called Zephyr Technology made the system that measured the miners’ vital signs.

A Wall Street Journal column entitled “Capitalism Saved the Miners” listed other companies whose technological advances helped make the rescue possible.

Altruism vs. Opportunism

Judging from their websites, most of the donor companies are proud of their contributions. And why not?

The Huffington Post had a question for its readers: “Are Oakley’s actions in good taste?”

The poll-response options: (a) Commendable! (b) Kind of Despicable. (c) Probably well-intentioned but also well-thought-out.

Sadly, 9.83% of HuffPo readers thought Oakley’s donation was “Kind of Despicable” and would apparently prefer the miners go blind than have Oakley receive any credit (or publicity) for a good deed, regardless of motives.

Wonder how the 9.83% feels about Steve Jobs giving the miners iPods?

I say, “¡Viva Chile!” And viva capitalism!

What’s your take on Oakley’s product donation? Altruistic, opportunistic, or both?


Mitch Devine is an independent marketing copywriter and SEO writer based in Orange County. He works out his love-hate thing with advertising at .