Newspaper Ads Tout World Diamond Council Site

The World Diamond Council is upping its campaign to counteract any fallout from the Leonardo DiCaprio Blood Diamond movie, running newspaper ads to tout its diamondfacts.org Web site.

WDC’s ads ran in September in newspapers including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and The Washington Post. The sparse ads don’t contain much information; instead they quickly mention everything “a diamond can do” and give the Web address.

Diamond Information Center spokesman Carson Glover, who is also WDC’s media liaison, says the ads ran because “we are very proud of the site and wanted people to know about it and drive traffic to it.”

He says WDC is considering running more ads in the future. In all, the Council plans to spend $15 million countering the movie’s effects.

Although it’s a trade-sponsored site born of damage control, diamondfacts.org is at times surprisingly candid. One section on alluvial diggers notes that “often conditions are substandard, with workers exploited and a total disregard for safety.” It also links to reports critical of the industry from Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada.

“For this Web site to have credibility we needed to have anyone who is part of the Kimberley Process as part of the Web site,” Glover says. “We want to use this to spur dialogue and as a clearinghouse of information.”

In other ways, the site is clearly pro-trade. Among its “diamond facts” are statements from African leaders about the importance of diamonds to their economies and Jewelers for Children’s sponsorship of an orphanage in South Africa. Its trade section includes a Confidence Pack designed to let retailers answer consumer questions about conflict diamonds. (See “Politically Correct Diamonds?” JCK, October 2006. p. 110.)

All this raises the possibility that the trade is actually giving the movie more publicity than it would otherwise get, but at the recent GIA Symposium, DIC director Sally Morrison argued the trade has no choice, noting the movie will have a $30 million to $40 million ad campaign.

The publicity department at Warner Bros., which is releasing Blood Diamond Dec. 15, did not return a phone call from JCK, but a spokesman reportedly told the Los Angeles Times that the studio welcomes any attempt to educate the public.