Bittersweet “Journey”?

When the Diamond Promotion Service launched its Journey campaign, it seemed like a sure winner to me. It had nice designs (although, I will admit, this area is not my strong suit) and an easy to understand concept, even for a male like myself. And it had an extremely strong first year.

But according to most people I’ve talked to, last Christmas “Journey” sales sputtered. Now, granted, last holiday was pretty bad for the industry in general. But what I am struck by is how many people in the trade have mixed, and sometimes hostile, feelings about the Journey campaign. Here are the three main reasons why:

It got cheapened. This is by far the number one gripe I’ve heard. Apparently, the majors were the first to jump onto “Journey,” and they produced what some saw as low-end versions of the concept. Once that happened, the high-end independents, who largely embraced three-stone, didn’t want to touch it.

It wasn’t a staple. The genius of the three-stone jewelry campaign is that it took an established product (three-stone rings) and gave it a new positioning (“past, present, future.”) By contrast, most jewelers say that graduated diamond jewelry is not the same basic item that three stone rings are. (Again, this is what I’ve heard. This is not really my area …)

Inconsistent advertising support. When the three-stone campaign was launched, it had the full support of the DPS. That was also the period when the De Beers/JWT axis was very generous with co-op dollars.

But the “Journey” campaign never seemed to come together the way the “three-stone” ring campaign did. Furthermore, while I will go on record as saying I loved the opening “Dandelion” commercial, I know some in the trade have described as a little too off-beat for their tastes. (Last year’s Christmas commercial seemed like a retread, with the exception of the very effective music.)

Now one could certainly argue that ”Journey” has been a success. Any product that sells $1.5 billion in its first year is certainly impressive. And maybe, if the economy turns around, so will Journey sales. But at this juncture it seems unlikely to be another three-stone, as it was initially touted. Which is a shame, because the trade certainly could use one.

I am interested in any further thoughts on this ….

JCK News Director