Ray-Ban is an American brand of sunglasses founded in 1937 by Bausch & Lomb.They were introduced for the United States Army Air Corps. In 1999, Bausch & Lomb sold the brand to the Italian Luxottica Group for a reported $640 million.
Ray-Bans were first created in 1936. Some years earlier, Lieutenant John A. Macready (an American test pilot) returned from a balloon flight, complained that the sun had permanently damaged his eyes, and contacted Bausch & Lomb asking them to create sunglasses that would provide protection and also look sophisticated. On May 7, 1937, Bausch & Lomb took out the patent, and the Aviator was made available to the public. The prototype, known as Anti-Glare, had a frame weighing 150 grams. They were made of gold-plated metal with green lenses made of mineral glass to filter out infrared and ultraviolet rays. Pilots in the United States Army Air Corps immediately adopted the sunglasses. The army wanted sunglasses that would protect the soldiers’ eyes from harmful light while maintaining a stylish look. The Ray-Ban Aviator became a well-known style of sunglasses when General Douglas MacArthur landed on the beach in the Philippines in World War II, and photographers snapped several pictures of him wearing them. Ray-Bans were quickly seen outside the army. They quickly gained popularity through other warsand even made a debut in the movies. In 1952, Ray-Ban created another style, the Ray-Ban Wayfarer, this time with plastic frames, which became popular soon after its release. By 1962, Ray-Ban started to create impact-resistant lenses. It was not until ten years later when the United States of America made impact-resistant eye wear mandatory through the FDA regulation. Wayfarer sunglasses were seen on movie stars, TV stars, and musicians. Ray-Ban still remains a top designerin the sunglasses industry with its constant changes of color, frames, and lenses.
1950s and 1960s
The fifties was when Ray-Bans had gained recognition through American pop-culture endorsements for the first time. Kim Novak and Marilyn Monroe wore Wayfarers in public and movies. As the style grew in popularity, celebrities such as Roy Orbison, James Dean, Bob Dylan, and John F. Kennedy were seen in public and on television and movies wearing Wayfarers.
1970s and 1980s
As the 1970s lacked public celebrity endorsements for Ray-Ban, the 1980s was the decade of revival for them. In 1982, Ray-Ban signed a deal with a California companyfor $50,000 a year in order to have product placement for the brand in movies and television programs.
The 1990s had no record of new celebrities seen wearing Ray-Ban sunglasses; however, product placement in movies and television continued, such as in the 1997 film Men in Black.
2000 – present
The Wayfarer model reaches the light of British pop culture, as stars such as Lily Allen, Alexa Chung, and Agyness Deyn are seen wearing them in public or on television.
Ray-Ban’s “Never Hide” campaign was launched in March 2007. It consisted of a YouTube series and a film advocating customers to “Never pretend. Never be afraid. Never give up. Never Hide”. The campaign also encourages people to live their lives with authenticity and no fear of judgment. Short YouTube videos show musicians and bands such as Slash of Guns N’ Roses and Two Door Cinema Club wearing Ray-Ban products and playing live shows.
In 2007 the company introduced a new campaign that aimed to make the brand more refreshing and compelling, especially toward younger people. Never Hide was its name; and it aimed to express the Ray-Ban ideology: “Sunglasses that place you at the centre of attention beyond trends, transcending time and strongly customising whoever wears them”.
Finally, in 2008 Ray-Ban presented Ray-Ban Remasters, a communication programthat consolidated Ray-Ban’s strong relationship with music, and its position as a global iconicbrand. Ray-Ban Remasters was a partnership with eight musicians who recorded a song of their choice from the ’50s and ’60s and remastered these songs exclusively for Ray-Ban. These songs were performed live in a series of three events in North America, China, and Europe.
Throughout the ’50s and ’60s the Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses were the choice of various musicians such as Bob Marley to Bob Dylan. Ray-Ban became more popular after the release of the movie Top Gun. The movie generated a 40 percent increase in sales for the Ray-Ban Aviator brand. The ’80s garnered great attention to Ray-Ban through movies. John Belushi and Dan Akroyd wore them in The Blues Brothers. Bruce Willis wore them in his role as David Addison on Moonlighting. From 1982 through 1987 Ray-Ban placed their sunglasses in more than 60 movies and television shows, including Quentin Tarantino films such as the 1992 crime film Reservoir Dogs. Tom Cruise also wore Ray-Ban Wayfarer in Risky Business.
Through virtual reality and online advertising Ray-Ban is now re-connecting with its customer/client base. Through augmented reality the company can demo products through the “Ray-Ban Virtual Mirror”, which bridges the gap between viewing and actually trying the product. Through the virtual mirror the consumer seems to try on actual sunglasses.
In terms of social media outlets, Ray-Ban has a Facebook page as well as a Twitter page.