At Work: Partnerships - Business partner

Mathew Little

The RNIB and Boots came together to persuade people to have eye tests.

Watching Boots' television adverts, you could be forgiven for mistaking the retailer for some kind of unofficial health service, dispensing advice as frequently as it does prescriptions. The company, which merged with drug wholesaler Alliance UniChem in August, has been striving to reposition itself as a 'healthcare destination'. This has even stretched to controversial plans to host GP surgeries and hospital consultants in some of its 2,600 stores in the UK from 2007. So the company's preference for partnerships with health charities such as Cancer Research UK and the RNIB is probably not accidental.

Boots Opticians sponsored the RNIB's Eye Test Action Day, which encouraged people to take regular eye tests, on 6 September. To coincide with the RNIB event, Boots staged its own Big Eye Test week, during which free eye tests were offered in every Boots Opticians store in the UK. The blindness charity referred callers to its health phoneline to Boots for the test, and advertised the opportunity on its website. Boots stores displayed jointly branded posters and leaflets.

"We work with all opticians," says Caroll Pattison, corporate partnerships executive at the RNIB. "We want to get our message out to as many people as possible, and Boots was the company that wanted to work with us."

A national RNIB poster campaign also featured the Boots logo alongside its own, and a report by the charity on the link between obesity and sight loss was launched by Boots' PR agency.

"Our message to people to have an eye test was paramount," says Pattison.

"But we are not endorsing Boots as an optician. We are very grateful to it because we were able to reach more people through the partnership, but we will happily work with any optician."

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