During the last 24 hours the rescue mission of Chilean miners has been the world's top news. The men have been trapped underground since 5 August, when a mine tunnel collapsed. The story of men getting out of the mine into freedom is a “tremendously inspirational story” (according to Barack Obama). Frankly, it’s one of the most feel-good stories of 2010. It’s story about fear, hope, courage, determination, love and joy.

Hey, wouldn’t you like to be a part of this story? At least during the last piece of it? Enter: Oakley.

American eyewear company Oakley has made a donation/gift for all 33 miners – their Radar sunglasses, with a 100% UV protection and the retail price of $180. Miners were more than 2 months without sunlight, so for them to avoid any eye-damages it would be perfectly normal and desired to wear sunglasses.

Rescued miner wearing Oakley sunglasses (photo by AP, source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-11529537)

Oakley acted quickly and stroke a great deal. According to

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Million In Exposure From Chilean Miners” href=”http://www.cnbc.com/id/39650306″ target=”_blank”>CNBC Oakley’s television impact is immense. Front Row Analytics, a sponsorship evaluation company, calculated that Oakley received $41 million in equivalent advertising time. They took into account the live coverage, the recaps and a rough estimate of the audience watching around the world.

Gracias Oakley!

Oakley’s gesture is a noble and positive one, even though the news of its eyewear donation was leaked to the media a few days before the actual rescue. From the PR point of view everything is spot on:

  • Story: perfect. The feel-good story of the year.
  • Timing: perfect. When we see a new miner stepping out of the Fenix capsule, the first thing we spot are the sunglasses.
  • Circumstances: perfect. Miners have to wear (any) sunglasses for their own protection.
  • Audience: perfect. Millions of people around the world.
  • Execution: perfect. No ads, just the product and logo.

There were some people claiming that this is the product placement of the year. Is it? Don’t you think that Oakley used other people’s misfortune to promote its brand?

After a brief glance on Twitter, I could say that the majority of Twitterers support Oakley’s move, even though some of them questioned the boundaries of PR/marketing.