Oakley hits Gold with Chilean Miner Brand Association

Brilliant Brand Association by Design
International sunglasses brand Oakley hit pay-dirt recently when their products were spotted on the dials of each of the 33 Chilean miners as they appeared in front of the world’s media, above ground for the first time in more than three months. Since they resurfaced, the rescued Chilean miners have been wearing specially designed Oakley sunglasses to protect their eyes as they re-acclimate to the sun.

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So how is it that these miners end-up wearing $180 Oakleys for the whole world to see?

The story goes that a month ago a Chilean journalist covering the rescue efforts at the mine got in touch with Oakley. The journalist had recommended Oakley to the Chilean private health insurer responsible for providing eyewear protection for the miners once they surfaced. Oakley stepped up – as any brand would – donating 35 pairs of Oakley Radar® with Black Iridium® lenses in Path™ and Range® lens shapes for the miners to wear as their eyes return to normal.

Word has it the Minister of Mining; Laurence Golborne (who lead the rescue) has asked to wear one of the extra pairs to show solidarity.

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Team Oakley – the 33 rescued miners sport the latest in hospital wear, slippers and shades.

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Chilean police guard the home of one of the rescued miners, and make a play for their own sunnies sponsorship.

So, is this an example of another global brand hijacking a wonderful piece of human history for their own benefit, or a responsible global brand citizen responding to the call of these miners in need? The answer lies somewhere in between. Whilst I’m sure the motives of Oakley were not 100% saintly, do we really expect that of our brands? In the end, the miners were rescued and Chile and the world celebrated a great story of human triumph. Sure Oakley got some prime product placement, but to their credit they made no attempt to steal the show.

Nice one all round.

Dave Ansett, Brandamentalist
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Brand designer in need of a new pair of (perhaps Oakley) sunnies


  1. What a terrific story and brand association for Oakley. It really positions the Oakley brand as a leader in sun protection, which allows them to focus on building their brand as leaders of fashion through other mediums.

    • You make a good point Lachlan, the credible authenticity that this brand association brings to Oakley provides a really strong platform for them to build their brand reputation in sports, high performance, fashion, etc. with the right brand communication design.

  2. I’m from Chile and after seing over and over every image there is about the miners this is the first time i hear about the brand of the sunglases. I can imagine it was a more visible brand association in other countries but i personally doubt here in Chile people really payed attention to the brand. It’s a known brand here for some, specially an elite who can afford a pair, but i think for the price and for the effort we have to put on pronouncing the name (us, spanish speaking people), it’s not a massive brand in this country.
    And i am almost 100% sure the police men on the last photo are wearing Oakley, police men wear the Ray Ban style, probably not the original brand because they’re really expensive too.

  3. Hi Carola, nice to hear from you and to get some real insights into the coverage from Chile. I think you’re right – the play for Oakley has ended-up with a stronger impact outside your country than within. In the end I think that’s part of the strength of this brand gesture as a soft piece of brand communication to be picked-up or-not, rather than jammed down everyone’s throats. Finally I love your comment that the Police wear Ray Ban – but probably not originals.

  4. The Future of Marketing - Our thoughts | Engage Marketing Blog

    […] businesses as it is for big businesses that have numerous levels of authority to pass an idea by. See this fantastic example of Oakley generating millions of dollars worth of exposure with the Chile…- David Meerman […]

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