Robbins Brothers Video Marketing, Part I

Robbins Brothers has a knack for live marriage proposals that generate a ton of media interest. (They don’t call themselves “The Engagement Ring Store” for nothing.) Rebroadcasting the TV news spots of their many creative pop the question moments caught on video, or recorded for posterity’s sake, changed the California and Texas bridal chain’s approach to video marketing and TV advertising starting in 2009.

In a two-part blog, Retail Details will examine how Robbins Brothers changed the direction of its video marketing, and how it’s enhancing the store’s online presence on social media websites while placing them high on search engine result lists.

Two years ago, Robbins Brothers began using YouTube as a video marketing outlet. Today the bridal jewelry chain has nearly 120 YouTube videos. That may seem like a lot of camera and editing work. But being clever marketers, Robbins Brothers has let young couples in love do the job through a combination of marriage proposal video contests and community outreach efforts. 

“This was a natural fit for us given we’ve been so fortunate to have such great TV news coverage of our live events,” says Diane Ferraro, director of advertising.

Early success stories for Robbins Brothers were 20 men proposing to their sweethearts live on the Today show back in September 2003. The following year, the story of a U.S. Marine who lost his ring finger and the wedding ring on it after being wounded in Iraq grabbed national media attention just before Christmas. Appearances on Ellen DeGeneres’ and Dr. Phil’s shows certainly helped take Robbins Brothers’ marriage proposal news coverage to the next logical level with video contests.     

A TV commercial made from “Welcome to the rest of your life” video contest submissions

In July 2009, Robbins Brothers launched its first marriage proposal video contest, “Welcome to the rest of your life.” In the first month it received 100 video entries, 25 of which were out of market (Robbins Brothers has 12 stores throughout California and Texas). Each month more and more videos poured in.

“The videos were very homespun and home grown,” says Ferraro. “They were really about the customers and their moment. The ring was almost secondary.”

The response of the initial contest was so overwhelming in terms of submissions and viewer responses, that Robbins Brothers used these videos to make their first contest-themed TV commercial. Since then, Robbins Brothers has run a variety of marriage-proposal video contests.

Just last week the “Share the Love” video contest was launched. Five couples will have the chance to win $1,000 with some couples getting a chance to have their marriage proposal video used in a TV commercial in time for Christmas.

After several video contests in two years, Robbins Brothers has learned a lot about how to get as many video submissions as possible each time around. First, make the contest appealing. “The contest needs to be about what they’d naturally do themselves, but on YouTube,” says Ferraro.

RB website form

The online submission form for the “Share the Love” video contest

Second, make the contest easy to enter. The more rules there are to determine a winner, or the more complicated it is to submit videos, the less participation there’ll be. Robbins Brothers has a special submission form for its current contest on the store’s main website. 

Finally, the contest theme needs to make the guy the hero. “It may be her ring and their moment, but the proposal has to be his plan,” says Ferraro.

Why do these contests work so well with younger generations of bridal customers? Reality shows, for one. “Part of it is being your own star,” says Ferraro. “Younger generations want their story to go viral. It gives them boasting rights with their family, and, more importantly, their peers.”

With smartphones and compact high-definition video cameras fitting easily in pockets and purses, the “share everything” generation and the “Broadcast Yourself” website are a perfect fit to attract the attention of today’s young bridal customers.

“Historically there’s never been any documentation of the wedding proposal,” says Ferraro. “Young bridal customers document everything else in their life—why not one of the most intimate and personal moments, as well as the difficult moment in their lives that can’t be re-created?”