Up Close With: GMAC’s Layna Mendlinger and Nitin Jain

May 15, 2023

This year’s new co-chairs of the Marketing Committee for the Global Myopia Awareness Coalition (GMAC) are Layna Mendlinger, Global Head of Marketing for Visioneering Technologies, and Nitin Jain, Chief Commercial Officer at Euclid. 

To find out what promotional social media campaigns they have in store for GMAC this year, John Sailer, Editor-in-Chief of Review of Myopia Management interviewed them in this next installment of a series of interviews with the organization’s new leadership, which started with Johnson & Johnson Vision’s Lisa McAlister, the new GMAC Board Chair.

To find out what they had to say, read the interview below or listen to it here:

John Sailer, Editor-in-Chief, Review of Myopia Management: Hello and welcome to Review of Myopia Management‘s continuing interview series with the new committee Chairs of GMAC, the Global Myopia Awareness Coalition. I am John Sailer, editor-in-chief of Review of Myopia Management, and we are here today with the new co-chairs of the GMAC Marketing Committee. Layna Mendlinger, Global Head of Marketing for Visioneering Technologies, and Nitin Jain, Chief Commercial Officer at Euclid. Thank you both for being here. Let’s get right into it. As co-chairs of the marketing committee for GMAC, what campaigns are you currently working on and what are the goals?

Layna Mendlinger

Layna Mendlinger

GMAC/Layna Mendlinger: Our mission at GMAC is to increase myopia awareness amongst parents. We’ve got to let parents know that there is a sense of urgency about getting eye examinations for children when they’re young so that we can make the most impact as possible on reducing myopia. This year, the GMAC’s Marketing Committee has worked to have a very comprehensive outreach plan. While we are consistent with other campaigns in using influencers to bring to our target market of parents, we are also tapping into some other audiences that will extend our message. But for parents, our campaign concept this year is called Sight Sanctuary, and it builds on the success of our Tech Timeout concept from previous years. There is an awareness to not only get outside, reduce dependence upon devices, and things of that nature, but to also reach out to their eye doctors to understand the clinical interventions and therapy options. In addition to that, we’ll also leverage media outreach to extend that message into the media and hopefully get to more parents than we’ve done before.

RMM/Sailer: Okay. Very interesting, Layna, thank you. Sight Sanctuary, looking forward to it. How would that compare with campaigns you’ve done in the past?

GMAC/Nitin Jain: One of the things that’s special about GMAC is we have a true diversity of our membership base, and that’s allowed us to explore different ways to reach a broader audience, even beyond the consumer. One of the things that we’re particularly excited about this year is enhancing our ECP outreach in partnership with key members of GMAC across trade media within our industry, which includes great organizations like Jobson, Pentavision, Vue based out of Canada, and Eyes on Eyecare. All these different media partners have stepped up to broaden our reach to the eye care professional. The idea behind that is to reach the ECPs to let them know all the great campaigns that GMAC is investing in. 

Nitin Jain

Nitin Jain

In addition, we’re also building on the success of the parent discussion guide that we created last year, which is a really helpful tool for a parent to engage with an eye care professional about myopia management. We’ve updated that to include more languages and also provided an insights document that goes into more detail around the clinical interventions available. 

In addition to the ECPs, GMAC for the first time this year is also putting an emphasis towards a broader health care professional audience. We’ve learned that there’s a lot of different touchpoints for a parent’s and child’s journey as it relates to myopia management, which includes a health care professional audience such as pediatricians. GMAC has been working with advisory board members, which are some of the top experts around the world within their different fields, including pediatricians. 

We have the pleasure of working with Dr. Natasha Burgert, who is a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics. Her clinical insights, her practical clinical knowledge, and also her understanding of the pediatric community more broadly has given us an opportunity to create tools specific for that audience and also engage with Dr. Natasha’s strong social media outreach. We’re looking forward to creating more of those tools available to the broader HCPs. This is all going to be updated and shared on MyopiaAwareness.org. That way there’s one central place that is a credible source to get all this information.

RMM/Sailer: Excellent, Nitin, lot’s going on. Glad to hear that you’re reaching out to more health care professionals and eye care professionals and happy that Jobson and Review of Myopia Management can be a part of that. So GMAC extended beyond the United States last year by bringing last Summer’s Screen Staycation campaign to the U.K. Are there any more international plans going forward?

GMAC/Mendlinger: We are a global organization, and we have been working to extend our reach globally. So, continuing with the U.K., there is a great local team in place to help drive our initiative this year. Our Sight Sanctuary concept is being executed in the U.K., and they will be localizing content for this year. The timing also works with what we’re doing in the U.S. as well. We’re targeting local health care professionals, eye care professionals, and parent influencers in that market. 

We’re also excited to be expanding into Canada for the first time. We have a great group of partners, particularly on the media side, that will help us extend our campaign there. We’re targeting parent and eye care influencers specific to the Canadian market to broaden our consumer campaign messaging. The timing will line up with our U.S. execution as well, and we welcome Vue Canada into GMAC as an eye care professional trade media outlet. They’ll be working closely with GMAC to help amplify the consumer campaign with the eye care professional audience to get them prepared for our calls to action of getting parents motivated to reach out to their eye care professionals.

RMM/Sailer: Beyond all that, beyond the social media and your website and your other campaigns, what else is the marketing committee involved with?

GMAC/Jain: We’ve got some exciting opportunities to continue expanding our reach and meeting people, particularly eye care professionals, where they are. One of the things we’re launching this year is a GMAC Instagram page. It’s currently in development right now and something we’ll be launching in the coming months. It’s going to be mainly thinking about ECPs and industry as a main target audience and another vehicle for us to get the message out there on timely updates of our campaign. We believe this is going to be a valuable resource because we know many of the eye care professionals are reposting and putting information out there within their local communities, and we’re excited for them to have this as a valuable resource so they can build on some of the great momentum we believe we’ll have with the Sight Sanctuary campaign.

In addition, we’re going on the road with interaction with the ECP, and for the first time we’re going to have a presence at the American Academy of Optometry. So, at Academy this year, they’ve been great about working with us to have an exhibit booth and have GMAC resources available and members actually stepping up with participation at that booth to share these exciting initiatives and content and have some of that face-to-face interaction to help build awareness on the importance of myopia management.

RMM/Sailer: Good to hear there will be more exposure through Instagram and exhibiting at the AAO. So, we’re coming up on Myopia Awareness Week next week. BHVI is sponsoring Myopia Awareness Week again. What is GMAC doing to participate?

GMAC/Mendlinger: We are excited to utilize Myopia Awareness Week as the kickoff point for our eye care professional and health care professional influencer campaigns. We see Myopia Awareness Week as a great starting point to help practitioners in both eye care and general health to be prepared and share education with parents. We are excited to partner with BHVI as a member of GMAC and work together toward common goals of raising awareness and getting more patients in treatment for myopia. This year we know that Myopia Awareness Week is very focused on eye care professional outreach and education, and we see that synergistic approach as GMAC focuses on consumer and parent direct education and awareness, and putting them together is actually a great way to prepare the action for coming together and getting things done.

We see this arrangement as synergistic because you need the awareness and education coming from both sides in order to really move this needle. This year, we’re making efforts to get the word out about what GMAC is doing so that ECPs can be prepared when parents come into their offices, and we’re looking for opportunities with BHVI to share their fantastic content on how we can, again, reach an audience and educate eye care professionals further. The call to action that we will have will be focused on gaining more information on the tools for the practitioner to get prepared and to learn more and offer treatment options for myopia management.

RMM/Sailer: We’re just coming up on Myopia Awareness Week, so we’re looking forward to all that happening as well. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

GMAC/Jain: The last thing we’d like to mention, building on what Layna’s saying, is that we’re really being purposeful for timing of getting this information out there. So, Myopia Awareness Week is fantastic to build on that momentum and amplify at the end of May. We also know the Sight Sanctuary campaign we believe will really resonate in the summertime when kids are off school and have more time with their parents to engage in some of these fun outdoor activities. It will line up well with the back-to-school momentum that we all know is a big deal for getting those yearly eye exams, those comprehensive eye exams. We also want to make everybody aware of MyopiaAwareness.org. All this exciting information that we’ve been sharing we’ll be continuing to update on the website. Lastly, we want to thank our friends at Jobson and Review of Myopia Management and you, John, as a great partner to GMAC. We appreciate you and your engagement as we continue to build this strategy.

RMM/Sailer: Well, thank you, much appreciated, and we appreciate you also. Thank you both, and thank you all for listening to Review of Myopia Management‘s continuing interview series with the new committee chairs of GMAC, the Global Myopia Awareness Coalition. 

For more on GMAC’s new leadership, read Up Close With: GMAC’s New Chair Lisa McAlister and Up Close With: GMAC’s Kovin Naidoo.

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