Snapchat Revisits Traditional Marketing with the Second Generation of Spectacles

Spectacles, Snapchat’s attempt at a wearable, hands-free camera, has returned with version 2.0. And this time, the social media brand is abandoning the hype and the vending machines, and sticking with a traditional marketing strategy.

This generation of Spectacles has made several improvements on the first in both form and function. The glasses are now lighter and sleeker than the older model, in addition to being water-resistant. Snap has even partnered with prescription lens company Lensabl to allow for built in vision correctivity. As far as the glasses’ capabilities go, they can now take photos as well as video. The quality of the recorded material has improved, and the snaps load faster.

The main difference in iteration of the campaign, however, is not in the product itself-- it’s in the marketing strategy. The original Spectacles launch introduced the glasses through the use of enigmatic vending machines, dropped in seemingly random spots across the globe, which offered a limited number of glasses for a limited amount of time. Although the marketing approach garnered Snapchat three Gold Lions at Cannes, it didn’t pay off much in the way of sales-- Snap took a $40 million loss due to overestimating demand.

“The first round for Spectacles was mediocre for selling glasses, but very successful for showing how Snap can innovate as a marketer first and product manufacturer second. It let the product live to see another day, too. This time, they have to show off the product, not the marketing,” said David Berkowitz, marketing lead at Storyhunter.

And they intend to-- Spectacles are available to buy now on, as well as within the Snapchat app itself, and through Lensabl. This practical and simplified approach is likely to be an improvement on the previous one, however innovative it was-- Snap only sold 220,000 of the first-generation spectacles. The company also purchased outdoor displays and ran programmatic ads. There were even a series of more permanent Spectacles stands at high-end retailers and on college campuses-- but still, only 0.11 percent of Snapchat’s daily average users bought a pair.

The scarcity of the product in its early days did garner some interest among Snapchat superfans, as well as creating an expensive online resale market.

“My friends were snapping about it and being in line for hours. I saw that everyone wanted one, so I wanted one,” said Cyrene Quiamco, a Snapchat influencer. “My first thought was, ‘Why would anyone want to turn their phone?’” Quiamco said, referencing Spectacles’ ability to take 180-degree videos. That was a focus in Snap’s promos.

Now, however, Quiamco is gearing up to purchase the second generation product. She acquired the first thanks to a friend, and once she began using her Spectacles and Snapchat’s creative tools (like text and doodling), she received a lot of support from her followers. A year and a half into wearing Spectacles, Quiamco is ready to put this update into action.

“It’s similar to cell phones whenever you get a new version,” Quiamco said. “It’s faster. It’s sleeker. Technology is kind of like that. It’s more stylish. I think the second version is more usable.”

Influencers like Quiamco are a good consumer base for Snapchat, as they make their living through the use of such social media tools.

However, reaching the rest of their users is more challenging, and Snap is taking a different approach towards the other 187 million people who use their platform daily.

This time around, Snapchat has offered up samples of the new tech to outlets like The Verge, Mashable, and Wired, as well as Time and Refinery 29, for a quick review before the official release. This is a shift from their previous strategy, which did not allow media outlets any form of early access to Spectacles. With the extra coverage built up from these early reviews, there was a much higher level of anticipation among Snap’s customers-- an improvement on the surprise drop of a Snapbot at the company’s headquarters that earmarked the first launch.

“Although there was hype with vending machines, I don’t think it achieved a desired measurable success. They are likely more confident in this product with its tweaks in function and design,” said Tyler Hayes, content manager at tech product startup Xcentz. “But ultimately, can’t you really only do a secretive marketing campaign once before it’s played out and predictable?”

When the day arrived for the release of this latest version, Snapchat ran an ad for the Spectacles in the Discover section of the app, where users could swipe up to make a purchase. This is only the first of several in-app initiatives the social media company is launching-- it also intends to create Our Stories, which will feature snaps captured by Spectacles. More buyable ads will show up on the platform, and to celebrate those who do buy the product, Snap’s Actionmojis will show if a user has a pair of Spectacles connected to their account. There are two promotional videos on the Spectacles Youtube page, which emphasize the Spectacles’ double use as both a camera and an actual pair of sunglasses-- even prescription ones, if you like. No word on whether they will also use other types of paid ads, but so far, Snap has foregone experimental marketing strategies and is sticking hard to the fundamentals.

“It would have been cool to open Snap Map and hunt for very limited pairs of Spectacles in AR, [and] if found, shipped to you for free or at discount,” said Nick Aguirre, a law student who is an investor in Snap. “But I think they maybe just didn’t want any gimmicky marketing this time around. Just straight to the point.”

While it’s still too early to tell if the second generation of Spectacles will be as successful as Snapchat would like, there are already reports of a third generation in the works. The update is rumored to include more advanced cameras that will allow users to create three-dimensional depth effects in their recorded content. CEO Evan Spiegel has high hopes that despite the initial disappointment of Spectacles, they will eventually become the defining product of Snapchat. To contact our team of experts, visit  CROWD. or send us an email, at

TrendsGregor Cooney