JCK’s 2016 Holiday Jewelry Advertising Roundup

This year, a panel of millennials judge spots from the Diamond Producers Association, Kay, Pandora, James Allen, and more

Welcome to JCK’s seventh annual holiday advertising roundup.

Each year, I like to do the roundup differently. In the past, I have supplemented my own thoughts with those of random people on the internet and industry marketing executives.

This year, since so many of the commercials have targeted younger buyers, I enlisted three actual millennials—two women, one man—to give their opinions. (And these are not just everyday millennials, but creative types who live in Brooklyn, N.Y. We are not fooling around.) Many of these opinions were offered over Google Chat, just to add to the millennialness of it all. In many cases, their reactions differed from mine, showing a generation gap that I didn’t know existed.

To mark this special Gen Y edition, since every millennial-targeted commercial seemingly includes a man with a few days’ scruff, I have introduced our first-ever facial hair ratio. As you will see, in most cases, it’s quite high.

So here we go:

1. Diamond Producers Association, “Runaways”

The millennials say:

“This ad is clearly targeting a young, cool audience, hipsters who you wouldn’t think would wear diamonds. They got the details exactly right—the bomber, the walk-up. They are pandering to me exactly—and it worked.” —Lauren, 29

“I liked that she was wearing the diamonds on a chain. It reminds me of Sex and the City.” —Margaret, 27

“Funny. Cheeky. Hot.” —Matt, 31

My thoughts:

I like how these DPA ads—which truly are a radical break from past diamond advertising—talk about problems in the relationship, and keep the couple’s status ambiguous. The problem, for me, is this ad did not affect me emotionally. It’s supposed to be about love, but it mostly evokes sex, and while those things are related (generally) (one hopes), they are very different notes to strike in an advertising context.

In trying to speak “millennial”—and specifically, “hipster millennial”—this ad comes off like it’s trying too hard. If you are at a party and want to drive someone away, try uttering, “It was after our first date we decided to run away together. First to my apartment, later to Thailand.” In an ad that is supposed to celebrate the “real,” it comes off as inauthentic.

Still, if the comments above are illustrative, the target audience is on board. Perhaps pandering works.

Facial hair ratio: I don’t think it will come as any surprise that the main character sports a beard.

Something to ponder: Did he just compare his girlfriend to a snake?

2. James Allen, “How Do You Know If a Girl Loves Her Diamond Ring?”

The millennials say:

“Okay, this is silly, but I wish they hadn’t said ‘kick-ass.’ It feels like one step over. I still would have thought it was cool if they said ‘good,’ you know?” —Lauren

“This was fun and fun to watch and had a good understanding of our demographic, social media, etc. I liked Jose. I liked her leather jacket.” —Margaret

My thoughts:

This is a well-done, professional, quite funny commercial. But I’m a little uneasy about its message. Yes, millennials are a very socially connected generation. But they are also a very independent one. James Allen lets consumers design their own rings. Shouldn’t the focus then be on designing a ring that makes you truly happy? Isn’t that more important than pleasing the cat lady?

It also makes engagement ring shopping seems like an anxiety-inducing, pitfall-ridden process—and never explains how shopping on James Allen will reduce that fear. After viewing this, I wouldn’t be surprised if some would-be ring buyers just took a vacation. Dad won’t judge that.

Facial hair ratio: The proposer is certainly scruffy, and then there’s Jose from Guadalajara. High.

Something to ponder: Two characters—Jose and the woman in the nail salon—come close to being offensive. I’m not sure why the ad makers decided to even approach that line, considering the commercial was funny without them.


3. Zales, “We Believe”

The millennials say:

This feels like a classic jewelry store commercial, and I appreciate the diversity.” —Lauren

“I love the lesbians. And the black people. And the old people!” —Margaret

“I liked that the lesbians got a big chunk of the commercial. Doesn’t feel like they’re a token insert, but a focus.” —Matt

My thoughts:

The only reason I included this ad—the only reason it’s in any way noteworthy—is it includes a scene of a gay couple getting married. For that, it’s stirred up some minor controversy. One anti-gay group is waging a campaign against it. A Religious Right activist, who is also a state representative in Colorado, said that the Zales ad executives might be possessed by demons.

Aside from that feint toward modern mores, this is a pretty by-the-numbers Signet ad. Some of the images are affecting, and “love that answers the kind of questions your smartphone cannot” is a decent line. But those moments drown in the river of mush.

Facial hair ratio: Out of four featured men, two have beards. 50 percent.

Something to ponder: That music is awfully generic. Wouldn’t real demonic spirits want Slayer or something?

4. Pandora, “The Joy of Creating – The Joy of Giving”

The millennials say:

“It was really cool to see how the ring gets made. I liked that.” —Lauren

“Great music, great narrative arc!” —Margaret

“I didn’t know Pandora made rings, which I imagine is part of the point of this ad.” —Matt

My thoughts:

This starts out promisingly enough, with a solid Yuletide soundtrack. But if the ad wants to spotlight the creation of a Pandora ring—and that’s a great thing to spotlight—it should have stuck to that. The child’s art project just feels like a distraction and a not-exactly-apt analogy. The payoff—the ring fits on the art project—is weak.

Facial hair ratio: The Pandora artisan doesn’t have one, but the hero of the commercial does. 50 percent.

Something to ponder: The announcer sounds like Siri.


5. Forevermark, “Ever Us”

The millennials say:

“This was my least favorite. It just feels really cheesy.” —Lauren

“I am trying to imagine how this plays in Peoria, [Illinois,] you know? Because it does not play in New York.” —Margaret

“Is there a reason the ring has two diamonds? Because she is his friend and his lover? I feel like I’m missing something.” —Matt

My thoughts:

The above responses surprised me, as this ad was one of my favorites. Some recent commercials strive to be edgy. Others are basically retreads. This comes close to getting the balance right. It follows the typical formula but didn’t feel like the same-old. It didn’t bowl me over, but at least I didn’t find it boring or annoying.

Facial hair ratio: One man, one beard. 100 percent.

Something to ponder: Why does he have an umbrella and she doesn’t? Did he not tell her it was raining out?

6. Tiffany & Co., “Make the World Sparkle”

The millennials say:

“Classic and beautiful! Elle Fanning is a great choice!” —Lauren

“Snowy New York, gorgeous Elle Fanning, Christmas cheer. I loved this one.” —Margaret

“I liked this one. I like the music. It’s nice.” —Matt

My thoughts:

For the first few seconds, this looks like a typical Tiffany ad, with some beautiful New York City photography. Then it goes off in a very different direction.

This ad is well-put-together, and its use of Tiffany’s signature robin’s-egg blue is particularly effective. But it doesn’t always evoke the joy it is trying to summon, and the ending is a little abrupt.

The ad is also heavily dependent on the music it uses. If you like it, you will like the ad. If not, you may find it a little jarring. The more I watch it, the more I like it.

Facial hair ratio: Tiffany breaks the streak! There’s only one man in this ad, and because he only appears for a brief second, the ad execs apparently did not feel the need to give him a beard. I am willing to bet the singer has one.


7. Cartier, “Winter Tale 2016”

The millennials say:

“I’m not sure I totally get the leopard, but this was fun to watch. Does Cartier even need commercials?” —Lauren

“I really like ads like this, that exist basically entirely to spark joy and to entertain and endear the brand. Well done.” —Margaret

“I wouldn’t be mad if I was watching Hulu and this was the ad that came up every time it went to a commercial break.” —Matt

My thoughts:

I’m finally in tune with the millennials! While not as great as last year’s Cartier ad, this is a beautiful and impressive piece of work.


8. Kay Jewelers, “Get Your Kiss On”

The millennials say:

“Another classic jewelry store commercial. Again, I appreciate the diversity.” —Lauren

“Reminds me of the jewelry store commercials I’d see growing up. ‘Every kiss begins with Kay.’ I don’t know if it makes me want to run out the door to the store, but it does make me feel good that they’re including some older people and black people in their ad.” —Margaret

“The dog kiss at the end is incredibly cheesy, but that jingle is undeniable.” —Matt

My thoughts: The diamond in the refrigerator (next to the strawberries!) is cute. The rest I have seen many times before, and will probably see a million times again. With its recent problems, Signet is apparently returning to the trite and true.

Facial hair ratio: To be fair, this doesn’t seem like a millennial-targeting commercial. So only the first guy is scruffy. 33 percent.

Something to ponder: I have nothing more to say about this ad. I have already forgotten it.


9. Baxter’s Fine Jewelry, “Holiday Commercial”

The millennials say:

“It would make me very uncomfortable to watch this with my parents.” —Lauren

“I’ve never heard of this store, so I’m assuming it’s local, low-budget. I appreciate what they’re trying to do here. It’s funny, kind of.” —Margaret

“Did I laugh? No. Did I recognize what I was being invited to? Sure.” —Matt

My thoughts:

This commercial for a jeweler in Warwick, R.I., is the first local ad I’ve included in this roundup. It’s an edgy spot (yes, keep the parents away), and clearly low-budget. But it holds your attention and has a great punch/tagline. And that little pause, where the woman hesitates, makes it.

Facial hair ratio: Zero.

Something to ponder: Someone should check on that lamp.


To sum up, the panel favored the spots from the Diamond Producers Association, Cartier, Tiffany & Co., and Pandora. They liked the diversity in the Zales and Kay ads.

My favorite was from Cartier, followed by Forevermark. The Tiffany ad is growing on me. For humorous ads—a category that often misses the mark—the James Allen and Baxter’s Fine Jewelry spots were well-done and well-executed.

Thanks to the great panel, even if it consistently disagreed with me and made me feel old. And thanks to web editor Logan Sachon for arranging it.

Now we open the floor. What do you think?

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JCK News Director

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