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June 3, 2006

AirOptix – Ciba Vision’s New Product Name Comes Out of Thin Air

Ciba Vision recently announced that it will change the name of its brand to AirOptix.

The O2Optix brand was introduced in the Fall of 2004 as a revolutionary silicone hydrogel contact lens that provides more than five times the oxygen of the leading soft contact lens — for whiter, healthier-looking eyes.

O2OptixCiba Vision has decided to change its brand name for two reasons:

  1. “in order to further communicate the benefits of silicone hydrogel”
  2. “to avoid potential conflict with another non-industry related brand present in the region where it will debut this summer (Europe, Middle East and Africa ).”

So how exactly does the new name AirOptix do a better job of communicating “silicone hydrogel” than the old name O2Optix?

I’ll admit that I don’t have a clue what silicone hydrogel is, but I do agree that “AirOptix” is the simpler and more easily pronounced of the two names.

And since the English language hasn’t changed that dramatically in the past two years, why didn’t Ciba company choose the AirOptix name in the first place before spending millions in advertising O2Optix?

As for reason #2, I’m stumped. In a preliminary search, I did not uncover the trademark conflict to which Ciba alluded, but what we did find was:

Although O2Optix was introduced in 2004, and all of its packaging proudly displays the ™ symbol following the O2Optix mark, Ciba’s trademark application for this name was first filed on April 6, 2006, while Ciba’s AirOptix mark was published on June 5, 2005 and “allowed” on May 16, 2006 — just two weeks prior to this announcement.

Ciba has been discussed on a number of blogs recently because the company has been going through some PR trouble due to the scarcity of their Clear Care product line. Tuvel sees their response to the shortage as a missed opportunity and Observations of Public Relations has a couple of regularly updated and apparently very popular posts on the situation here and here, filed under the category of "Crisis PR."

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Posted by Diane Prange at June 3, 2006 7:00 AM
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1 Comment

The "non-industry related brand" that might clash with the European rollout of 02-Optix would be mobile phone operator 02 (www.02.com). Apparently, it's pretty big in Asia (www.seeo2.com). In Europe, 02's ambitions did not survive the 2001 telecoms crash.

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