In June, a young industry member was taking a cigarette break outside the Jewelers for Children (JFC) dinner at JCK Las Vegas. She met another smoker who described himself as “from De Beers.”
The woman, according to an anecdote posted on Facebook by industry writer Peggy Jo Donahue, proceeded to criticize his company for cutting out generic advertising in the United States, saying it had hurt diamond demand. It was only later that night, when he received an award from JFC, that the woman learned she had just harangued De Beers CEO Philippe Mellier.
It’s hard to say whether the Las Vegas encounter had an effect on Mellier, or if falling diamond sales at De Beers’ August sight were the motivating factor, but the chief executive announced in late August that De Beers would introduce a “category-driving” campaign for diamonds and diamond jewelry for the first time in seven years.
Paul Rowley, executive vice president of global sightholder sales at De Beers, says the campaign is a response to drooping demand from Asia.
“As we have seen the year play out, we have seen overall growth looking more flat than we anticipated at the start of the year,” Rowley says. “We have seen what is happening with global markets, and we think we need to give a good signal to the market and do something to boost the category. So in addition to marketing for Forevermark, we have decided to do something in a more generic direction.”
The diamond ads will appear this holiday in addition to De Beers’ standard campaign for its Forevermark diamond brand. A similar generic campaign is planned for China. The new ads include De Beers’ famed “A Diamond Is Forever” slogan, which it had previously earmarked solely for Forevermark.
Rowley says the combined campaigns will cost more than $100 million. (De Beers has said it spends $100 million annually marketing Forevermark, but De Beers spokesman David Johnson now says that number includes the entire cost of the Forevermark business unit. This year’s $100 million spend, he says, is “pure, consumer-facing marketing.”)
Charles Stanley, president of Forevermark US, says the two holiday campaigns are “roughly equal” monetarily and complement each other: The Forevermark campaign includes a video commercial that will run on TV and online; and the generic campaign will run in print, on digital platforms, and on billboards and other outdoor spaces.
“They are both significant multimedia campaigns,” Stanley says. “It’s the sort of levels that you would expect from De Beers. For this to be effective, it has to cut through the clutter at holiday.”
The generic campaign is patterned after De Beers’ old “Seize the Day” ads, though it uses Forevermark’s white-on-black color scheme. (The original was black-on-white.)
“We looked back to the things that were successful in the past and asked, ‘How can we bring that back in a new way?’ ” Stanley explains.
This will be the company’s first category-driving advertising since the “Fewer, Better Things” campaign, which debuted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. However, this venture isn’t completely generic; the ads will include a sign-off that identifies them as from Forevermark.
“It isn’t really category marketing in the traditional sense,” Johnson says. “It will still feature the Forevermark logo and drive awareness for the brand, but [it] is looking at a broader audience segment than the existing Forevermark campaign in order to stimulate demand as widely as possible.”
The samples shown to JCK include the words Happy holidays from Forevermark below the standard copy, though that might be tweaked.
“The campaign strategically kills two birds with one stone,” Stanley says. “It helps to support the overall category while having additional benefits to Forevermark.” He doesn’t know if the generic campaign will continue beyond this holiday or will eventually involve the newly formed Diamond Producers Association. “This is a decision that De Beers has taken on unilaterally and demonstrates the leadership it still holds,” Stanley says.
But Rowley hopes the rest of the industry, led by the Diamond Producers Association, will support such efforts: “Ultimately we see the DPA as the vehicle for additional category marketing.”
(Image credit: Forevermark Exceptional Diamond Collection ring by Premier Gem; price on request; Premier Gem Corp., NYC; 212-319-5151; premiergem.com)