October 14th, 2010
06:28 AM GMT
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(CNN) - The emergence of the last miner from 69 days from beneath the Atacama Desert in Chile came after a 24-hour vigil by people glued to televisions and computer monitors around the world.

Online the spectacle was topped only by the World Cup, Wimbledon and Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration, according to Akamai’s Net Usage Index for News.

It was a huge day for Brand Chile, as the world watched in wonder as the South American nation rallied around the rescue. Chile President Sebastián Piñera – who personally greeted each miner coming out of the rescue capsule before a global audience – will take the nation’s newfound celebrity on the road later this week with a trip to London, Berlin and Paris where, according to the Financial Times, he will sell Chile’s image as Latin America’s best-managed economy.

It would be difficult to put a price on how much the good news exposure will be a boost to Chilean business abroad, tourism at home or even the numbers who will choose a Chilean red over an Australian or French vintage on their way home tonight (judging by the numbers on Facebook who said they planned to hoist a celebratory glass of Chile's finest, the nation's wine industry should enjoy a post-rescue windfall).

But the pair of Oakley sunglasses each miner wore provides a canary in the coalmine of the financial impact of the blanket media coverage.

As Oakley says on their website:

"The rescue team in Chile is relying on Oakley eyewear to protect the miners’ eyes when they are brought back to the surface.

"A few weeks ago, Oakley was approached by a Chilean journalist who was covering the rescue efforts and had recommended Oakley to the Chilean private health insurer, known as ACHS “Association Chilena de Seguridad”, for eyewear protection for the miners once they surfaced.

"Based on their requirements and full product specifications, Oakley donated 35 pairs of Oakley Radar with Black Iridium lenses…"

According to research by Front Row Analytics, the 35 pairs of $180 sunglasses donated to the rescue effort netted the company the equivalent of $41 million in television advertising time alone.

Talk about product placement. But will this big day for Brand Chile translate into big profits in the weeks and months ahead?

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