A striking visual imagination, a passion for photography and design, and some patient kids and staff combine in a standout in-house advertising operation at Uber Optics in Petaluma, CA. Owner Nancy Revis and her sister Amy Koenig’s highly visual marketing is witty, culturally literate and set apart by an uncompromising eye for detail.
THE IDEA: “I am really into photography and always creating funky and fun ads. I love doing the back-to-school funny photo,” says Revis, who possesses that mysterious quality that separates genuine photographers from the pointing, shooting herd: Her photos seem to be about — not just of — something. This is why they work as advertising, which at its best sets up a narrative around a brand. “I want all my ads to tell a story; they either tell a story or have a story.”
THE EXECUTION: Revis and Koenig — who has a separate graphic design business — are a team. “I post on Facebook and Instagram. It’s all my art direction and photography. My sister is a pro in Photoshop and Illustrator.” The ads have a creative flare that catches the eye, but what holds it are the details. One was based on the iconic opening-titles sequence of The Brady Bunch.” “That ‘Uber Bunch’ ad took me about a month to put together. I had to arrange a photo shoot with each individual and took about 60 photos per person looking in all directions; then narrowed down to my top five pics of each person; then emailed all my photos to my sister; then Amy arranged them all perfectly and color-matched the exact Brady Bunch color, and we found a Brady Bunch font. When my sister emailed me back the ad, it was like opening a present on Christmas morning.”
Revis eagerly credits key influences like The Sartorialist and David LaChapelle. But she and Koenig have developed their own aesthetic combining playful use of iconic imagery with a proud use of real people as models for Uber’s eyewear. “There is something rather sterile about the standard high-end optical ad ... Instead of a gorgeous woman leaning against a building in Greece wearing a $400 sunglass, how about a gorgeous mom in the crowd at her son’s soccer game wearing the $400 sunglass cheering like a madwoman? That is an image that someone will stop and look at and smile ... and remember.”
THE REWARDS: The ads work. “It has impacted my sales a lot. It shows my passion for my profession, for sure,” she says. “I have people actually cut the ad out and bring it into my shop. Customers tell me they grab the local weekly paper just to see if we did a new ad. People stop me in town to tell me how much they love our ads. That is the biggest compliment ever.” And her customers are loyal. Uber Optics had a unanimous 5-star rating from more than 30 respondents on Yelp as of mid-June. One Yelper gave the store full marks, even after adding the caveat that the “2 out 5 dollar signs” price guide was, in their opinion, too low. Another summarized his feelings thus: “I knew immediately that regardless of the price, they were my new glasses family … I could see myself partying with them at a backyard BBQ too!” But Revis isn’t quite satisfied. “It would be so awesome to do a cover shoot or band photo shoot for Rolling Stone. I have big dreams ...”
PHOTO GALLERY (6 IMAGES)
Do It Yourself: Create Your Own Brand Identity
- If your ads refer to a celebrity, there may be copyright issues (though Revis hasn’t had any so far). “I kind of take the idea and make it my own.”
- Celebs are inspiring, but people want to relate. “I actually get more people in my store after I do an ad with my husband in it,” says Revis.
- Get inspired locally. “I want to create a book called ‘Humans of Petaluma.’ There are so many interesting people in my town.”
- Uber’s ads often target men. “Women will find me; men need more help, and my ads have worked,” Revis says.
- Exercise your imagination. “I think of ideas on my morning jog,” says Revis, who’s inspired by vintage posters and old TV shows.
This article originally appeared in the July-August 2017 edition of INVISION.
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