Can These Three Words ‘I Forever Do’ Change the Anniversary?

It has long frustrated the Diamond Trading Company (De Beers’ marketing arm) that, while the road to a wedding begins with a diamond engagement ring, attempts to link diamonds to wedding anniversaries have had mixed success.

The DTC considers anniversaries to be—in the words of account director Richard Lennox—a “juggernaut of an occasion”:

  • 150,000 couples celebrate their anniversary each day.

  • Diamond jewelry is more desired as an anniversary gift than any other luxury good.

  • 65 percent of women want to receive a piece of diamond jewelry for their anniversary.

  • Only 6 percent receive one—in fact, diamond anniversary jewelry sales for the past several years have been flat.

But this year the advertising team for the DTC had an insight they think will change all that. The problem, they concluded, is not with diamonds; it’s with anniversaries.

So the DTC set out to “reinvent” the anniversary—and, naturally, make diamonds the way to commemorate it.

The task required extensive research into consumer attitudes toward anniversaries, including surveys, focus groups, and a hypnotist (yes, a hypnotist). The final conclusion: Men aren’t giving anniversaries the attention they deserve.

“For most men, the anniversary is simply ‘happy anniversary,'” says Lennox. “This campaign is designed to make people stop and think about what they actually committed to five, 10, 15, 20 years ago. In meetings, we described it as something like an anniversary intervention.”

The key, the team decided, would be a phrase more exciting than “happy anniversary.” The result: “I Forever Do,” which is itself a marriage between “I Do” and “A Diamond Is Forever.”

Those words don’t come floating off the tongue, and that’s intentional, Lennox says. “It’s a slightly odd phrase. We wanted something that was slightly disruptive, so it would stick in someone’s mind. We had different variations of it, but we kept coming back to ‘I Forever Do.'”

The phrase is considered so important that when manufacturers complained that the campaign put too much emphasis on three-stone jewelry, Lennox said, “We are not focusing on the stones. We are focusing on ‘I Forever Do.'”

Approximately 22 percent of this year’s DTC U.S. marketing budget will be dedicated to the “I Forever Do” campaign. The words have been tacked on to current De Beers ads, like the “Steps” commercial set in Trafalgar Square that premiered this Christmas. There is also a new print campaign built around the phrase. (See sidebar.)

The ultimate goal is to create a “cultural imperative” around anniversary diamonds—so that getting a diamond ring for your anniversary is as “mandatory” as getting one for your engagement. It’s a bold goal—but as Lennox notes, these are the same people that “got away” with linking diamonds with the millennium in 2000.

‘Three’-Alarm

One issue that alarmed some at the campaign’s unveiling is its focus on three-stone jewelry. At least one manufacturer complained that the DTC was putting too much energy behind three-stone products, a category that’s already doing well, at the expense of other pieces.

But the DTC team says this campaign is designed to promote the general idea of diamonds as an anniversary gift, not any specific piece. “Our advertising features three stone, but the trade isn’t limited to three stone and probably shouldn’t be,” says Diamond Promotion Service executive director S. Lynn Diamond.

Yet, linking “I Forever Do” with three-stone jewelry is a gamble in another way. The DTC has long maintained that the recent success of three-stone jewelry is the result of its “past, present, and future” positioning. That phrase will still be used to some extent, but now three-stone jewelry will be mostly linked to something that’s far less proven.

“It’s a ‘damned if we do, damned if we don’t’ situation,” Lennox admits. “We have a finite advertising budget. The beauty of this is that ‘past, present, and future’ and ‘I Forever Do’ are mutually supportive. We are telling two different sides of the same idea.”

The people at the DTC are palpably excited about their new creation. “We believe it’s the most powerful idea since the launch of ‘past, present, and future,’ ” says Elizabeth Testwuide, account director. And Diamond notes, “If just 10 percent of married women get a piece of diamond jewelry for their anniversary, we will grow the market by $3.2 billion.”

The key, they say, is trade support. While “I Forever Do” has been trademarked, the DTC team has given jewelers permission to use it as they see fit—unlike its signature phrase “A Diamond Is Forever,” which it keeps tight reins on. “It belongs to everyone,” Diamond says. The DTC has, however, retained the rights to inscribe the phrase on diamonds or jewelry.

The DPS is also preparing a “sales engine”—a piece of customizable software with tools for anniversary promotions and marketing. It will be launched at The JCK Show ~ Las Vegas. “When you talk to retailers, they didn’t know what part of their sales are anniversaries,” Diamond says. “This will show them how to start building a database, and bring to them the importance of this opportunity.”