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Ray-Ban Is Latest Brand to Have People Stare at Each Other for 4 Minutes and See What Happens


In yet another recreation of a 1997 experiment to try to get people to fall in love, Ray-Ban got a bunch of carefully chosen strangers to answer questions and look into each other's eyes for four minutes.

The brand said it hoped the subjects would open their hearts. It didn't say anything explicit about love, but creating closeness where it doesn't exist was the objective of the original Dr. Arthur Aron experiment—which The New York Times recently brought back into public discussion, spurring lots of four-minute eye-to-eye experiments, including a similar commercial from Prudential Singapore.

Perhaps inspired by the darkness of their classic shades, Ray-Ban's spots are black-and-white, moody, full of dark colors, and focus less on the redeeming intimacy of staring into a stranger's eyes than on the heart-wrenching stories that the questions elicit. Either happy stuff happened and was edited out, or the people who made the final cut simply haven't had a lot of happy moments in their lives.

This is a contrast from the Prudential spots, and from the times when I've done this experiment myself—there's usually more laughing, crying for joy, and even physical contact, which seems to happen naturally when you discuss intimate topics and gaze at someone across the lengthy expanse of four minutes. 

In fact, there is usually an almost unavoidable period of awkwardness and straight-up giddiness that the Ray-Ban spots seem to skip entirely. The result is that watching the three individual encounters back to back is, frankly, depressing. 

So, skip the three longer vids and stick to the montage of all the experiments (below), which at least provides a nice smattering of human intimacy, followed by a flutter cut of hugs at the end. You'll get the point. 

This campaign, titled "Eye to Eye," kicks off something called "Open Your Heart," part of Ray-Ban's #ItTakesCourage campaign. That's a lot of words back to back, and it isn't clear how it all fits together.

According to Ray-Ban's press release, "#ItTakesCourage is a real commitment to engage audiences with powerful editorial content by collaborating with groups of world-class creatives from the fields of photography, film, design, illustration and music to bring each 'theme' to life in both documentary and fictional formats." 

Hopefully that clears it up. #ItTakesCourage could mean just about anything, but in this case, courage seems to be about the willingness to talk to someone who doesn't look quite like you. 

Rather than recreating an exhausted experiment, though, it might have been more interesting to see whether there's a difference between staring at someone for four minutes with Ray-Bans on, and without them. In conducting the experiment personally, I've taken off my actual prescription glasses or worn contacts so the frames wouldn't get in the way. 

Notably, none of the participants in the spots are actually wearing Ray-Bans. In fact, there are no Ray-Bans to be spotted anywhere, not even hanging out in pockets or sitting on top of heads. Will the tiny logo in the corner, and the connection of eyes to glasses, be enough to distinguish this work as belonging to the brand? 

#ItTakesCourage to create content for content's sake ... and to hope your brand connection will come through. Now, if you like, check out the back-to-back stories:

Client: Ray-Ban
Agency: Stinkdigital
Director: Tom Green
Creative Director: Cameron Temple

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