Ace & Tate uses social workers and DJs instead of influencers to launch first global campaign

Vogue Dutch eyewear startup Ace & Tate has launched its first ever global campaign, but the company is forgoing stylistic “peacocking” to instead turn its lens towards real people.

The six characters fronting the advertiser’s ‘Me, Myself and I’ push, which looks to encourage consumers to look at different aspects of themselves and not be defined by a single style of glasses, include a British furniture designer, a Swedish social worker and a German DJ.

Created by We Are Pi in collaboration with Ace & Tate's in-house teams, ‘Me, Myself and I’ comprises a series of short films using clever visual mosaics and audio layering, shot by director Bafic.

A series of colourful out of home (OOH) portraits will accompany the push, as well as a digital campaign where the majority of media spend will be concentrated online.

Explaining to The Drum why Ace & Tate made the decision to street cast talent rather than use influencers, the brand’s head of creative Anoma Whittaker said that while it does have a network of social media influencers, the business wanted to celebrate individuality with its first global proposition.

“It’s not about ‘peacocking’, it’s not 100% needing to be in front of something,” she said, saying that the individuals cherry picked for the push were “invested in who they are with a slight sense of normalcy about them, as well as a uniqueness we wanted to celebrate.”

Whittaker added that it didn’t feel “organic or connected to [the brand’s] core customer base” to come out of the gate with its biggest campaign to date via an influencer-fronted drive.

However, both herself and Kristofer Crockett, Ace & Tate’s head of brand marketing told The Drum they weren’t dismissing the importance of the burgeoning industry – and that the brand was working to identify relevant influencers who were communicating the same messaging around individuality and self-expression in their own channels.

The brand's focus on human connections and real stories comes amid consumers raising questions about the value of influencer marketing. In the UK alone, almost half of consumers have said they would avoid clicking an affiliate link to prevent an influencer from making money. The same study from Affliate UK found that 21% don't think influencers are honest about ads.

Ace & Tate's global proposition arrives five years after it was founded by Mark de Lange, created in 2013 to give European consumers more flexibility in selecting quality eyewear, both online and offline.

The business designs, produces and sells glasses online and has grown to have 27 brick and mortar stores in seven countries, including one in London’s Covent Garden.

This year, the brand is to pilot an online eye test with fellow Dutch startup easee, and in the spirit of continuing to disrupt the industry it plans to launch a new contact lens product in the next 12 months.

With more collaborations and stores in the offing, Crockett also told The Drum that the brand was in conversations with Instagram about harnessing the Facebook-owned giant's new in-app shopping capabilities.

"We're in the process of launching our own e-commerce platform across our markets so that's the first step for us, to make sure that our own platform is launched and running smoothly. But, we are absolutely looking at different social commerce platforms to experiment with, and we'll work from there."

He added: "Instagram is a big platform for us from an organic social standpoint...but also it's become a very effective channel for us from a conversion standpoint."

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