How Penny the Pirate Helped Kids See Again: A Case Study

Last week I wrote about the benefits of social media for the patient – in some broad terms.  This week I want to look at one specific example of a company reaching patients in the healthcare industry – or potential patients.

According to OPSM’s (Optical Prescription Spectacle Makers) website: “1 in 5 Australian school children have never had their eyes tested and could suffer from undetected vision problems”

They tackled this problem with a 2014 campaign called “Penny the Pirate.” OPSM introduced a children’s book in conjunction with an app. They partnered with a blog network and Australian schools to introduce the products. As you can see from the video, this eye care brand steps into the publishing realm by cleverly disguising eye tests in an interactive children’s book.


A well known author named Kevin Waldron collaborated with the University of Melbourne to create the book, while an agency, Saatchi and Saatchi helped develop the project. Parents are able to screen and record their child’s eyesight without the intimidating environment of a doctor’s office. Parents who picked up the book at OPSM stores or downloaded the app received an eye patch, spy glass and 3D glasses. Both the book and app were free.  They gave away about 126,000.  I should mention though, that the company won the News Corp’s ‘We’re For Igniting Creative Ideas’ competition and was awarded with $250,000 of media dollars.

They spent their media budget in a variety of ways. The campaign included pretesting at schools. Parents were able to test the book and app, write articles about their experiences and share through Yahoo7’s “Mouths of Mum” network.

“Media spend was leveraged via social, SEM, display and performance ads online across various sites that extended the reach and drove online traffic towards more app downloads and OPSM online.”

OPSM also utilized:

  • large digital and social spending to target parents of 3-10 year olds
  • visual merchandising/in-store displays
  • cinema activity over school vacation
  • 15 and 30 second ads on free-to-air TV
  • PR campaigns in select locations


According to Digital Training Academy the number of eye tests conducted by OPSM increased by 22.6% after the campaign.  In the first two weeks after the campaign launch, OPSM received 50,000 engagements on social media. Other benefits felt were a 188% increase in Kids eyewear packages, 89% increase in OPSM consultation bookings, 14% increase in sales. Furthermore the app was the #1 Health App in the Apple Store during the launch. Ultimately OPSM increased vision diagnosis in Australia, helping many children with correct eye screening and a fun story.


OPSM provides a great case study because there a few key lessons and aspects that made this campaign so successful. First, there are alternate ways to pay for media campaigns – also enacted correctly they are worth the money doled out. Often companies look for ROI and traditional marketing methods don’t necessarily lead to increased engagement or increased sales. OPSM accomplished this by sparking conversation among their target market. A lot of money isn’t necessarily required for a successful media campaign.  OPSM relied heavily on native articles, written by consumers who genuinely liked the product.  Furthermore, OPSM demonstrates that a great campaign can combine social, digital, print and TV. While there are no details on specific expenditures, it seems that the combination was effective.  In addition, partnering with schools made all the difference with “Penny the Pirate.” I particularly like this example because it shows how a for-profit company (eyewear retailer) partnered with some non-profit organizations for a social cause, but also made some money and garnered attention and awards in the process.



  1. This is a great post and I appreciate your brevity and economic style. Reminds me of a case study I read in Marketing Principles or a similar class, it was like an MRI or some medical scanner re-invented for children. They created like a fun and friendly pirate adventure room instead of a “scary” doctor’s place, and it yielded similar results to your case study. I like your takeaways the best, focusing on the monetary and the operational. Cheers, and thank you!

  2. This also made me think of the GE partnership with IDEO that Mike mentioned above. Thank you so much for this post, this is an excellent case study and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about such a creative initiative. This was well-researched, as always, and it was an excellent decision to include the brief video about the project. Great post!

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