Welcome to JCK’s 13th annual holiday commercial roundup.
Every year, I like to do the roundup in a different way. This year, it’s goodbye, millennials, and hello, Generation Z.
Born between 1997 and 2012, Generation Z is still coming into the workplace, but it’s the cohort that contains the customers of tomorrow. According to analyst Edahn Golan, they are already proving to be solid jewelry consumers.
We assembled a focus group of eight members of Generation Z—six women, two men—who watched eight ads and sent us their reactions by email.
The panelists are (in alphabetical order): Caley, 21, student; James, 25, health care worker; Jessica, 23, program manager; Maureen, 22, student; Patrik, 25, student; Sabrina, 25, digital marketing specialist; Sarene, 19, student; and Siena, 25, account coordinator. All the panelists live in either New York or New Jersey. (I am related to two of the panelists and work with a third.)
This group was asked for their opinions on the following eight commercials, which are listed in alphabetical order by brand.
Banter by Piercing Pagoda: “Banter Together With Our Holiday Style Squad”
The panel says:
Caley: I absolutely loved this ad!! It really kept my focus because there were three different stories going on at once, and the way they tied it all in at the end by having them all meet up at the shoot was brilliant. The relatability of this ad is something that makes me more enticed to learn more about the brand. The music choice was great too.
James: I wasn’t familiar with the brand and after watching this. I’m still not. The presentation was busy, I couldn’t focus on a single piece, and it felt like a bout of vertigo. It was a cute concept, and I thought I caught a quick glimmer of one piece I would consider buying.
Jessica: I really liked this ad! I actually have never heard of Banter before, but this would definitely make me buy their jewelry. The people in this ad are around my age and look like they’re doing things that I would also do (minus being on a set). People my age are all about stacking necklaces, and this looks like a good place to buy them.
Maureen: I recognized at least one of the actors from TikTok, and the ad’s style and overall casualness feels young and cool. This type of short-form content is very familiar and easy to watch. I was not aware of this brand before, but just from the way it was shot and edited and the music and styling, I already get a feel for them.
Sabrina: This one is my favorite of the bunch. I like that they utilized influencers with three different aesthetics and showcased them wearing the pieces casually, but also for more glam looks.
Sarene: Of all the ads, this one is the most clearly targeted at Gen Z. It has an almost TikTok-like format with people getting ready, going out, getting coffee, etc. The fashion was very based in streetwear culture and the jewelry was not relationship- or love-based.
Siena: I loved this ad. I loved the vibe, the music, the fact that they’re taking you through a day in the life of people who wear the brand—which aside from the photo shoot, could be anyone’s average day. It’s saying that anyone can wear our pieces all day and feel good and look good.
My thoughts: This was energetic and fun, if surprisingly specific to New York City (the subway and taxis). Bonus points for the dog and the seemingly small apartment.
This ad was clearly targeted to Gen Z—it did seem like TikTok—and got the best reaction from the panel of all the spots this year.
Most panelists said they hadn’t heard of Banter, but, being from the Northeast, they likely have heard of Piercing Pagoda. I wonder if the ad would have received the same raves if it was released under the Piercing Pagoda name. The Banter rebrand now makes a lot more sense.
Chopard x Aespa: “Happy Diamonds”
The panel says:
Caley: I really liked how this ad focused on the details of jewelry along with the wearability of it. It made me think about how I could see myself wearing certain pieces from the collection. The close detailed shots of the watches really displayed the beauty of the diamonds.
James: Nothing about this ad stood out to me. It seems heavily focused on one collection—the dying trend of stacking bangles.
Jessica: I thought this ad was cool and liked it, but this wouldn’t make me buy Chopard. Maybe it’s because I’m young and while I would love to have diamonds, they’re out of my price range at this point in my life. I liked the jewelry and would consider buying Chopard when I’m older.
Maureen: I’m a big fan of [K-pop group Aespa], and right away that piqued my interest. Chopard is not a brand I am familiar with, but I was tuned in the entire duration because of them. It was unclear if this ad was promoting the watch or the brand as a whole.
Patrik: It was unclear which collection they are advertising.
Sabrina: There’s a lot of movement, so I was mainly focusing on the models, and they look great, but I wasn’t really able to get a good look at the other pieces.
Sarene: It feels much more focused on the women than the jewelry.
My thoughts: Chopard is presumably aiming for a younger demographic with this. This spot looks great, and I’m sure it cost a lot of money, but this didn’t strike me as particularly original or interesting.
David Yurman: “Come Closer With Henry Golding”
The panel says:
Caley: I was so captivated by the ad. The cinematography was beautiful, and I loved how relatable it felt. It took so many normal everyday occurrences, like giving some a hug, sitting in traffic, and looking out the window, and glamorized them.
James: I would definitely be interested in making a purchase. As it’s rare to see an ad focused on men’s jewelry, I really appreciated this.
Jessica: I like Henry Golding so I like this, but it wouldn’t necessarily make me buy David Yurman, especially because the ad felt like it was promoting men’s jewelry more than women’s.
Patrik: It was fine but not super exciting and nothing new.
Sabrina: I really like the sound design here. The tapping and clinking of the jewelry really made me focus on the pieces they were highlighting.
Sarene: I liked how the sound worked. The tapping of the ring lined up with the sound made it almost orchestral, and much more enjoyable to watch. Overall, the ad was successful. It showed the sleek, pristine essence of the jewelry.
Siena: I liked it a lot. I liked how they played with sound. It’s different than what I usually see in a jewelry ad. I don’t always love David Yurman, but since I saw and liked the ad maybe I would be more interested in [shopping there]. I like seeing jewelry ads where the men are the focus. I like how they still added in the woman to remind you that it’s not just a line for men.
My thoughts: I’m trying to figure out the story here. An intense guy stares out the window of a very nice apartment. He meets the woman on the street and shows he’s capable of smiling. Then, he changes into a tux. But he can’t stop fidgeting. Dude, calm down. Perhaps you need a drink. Someone makes him one, but it has world’s noisiest ice cubes. And he won’t stop tapping. The spot ends with the man staring out the window again. He looks pissed.
Aside from the clever use of sound, this rises and falls based on your opinion about Henry Golding (age 35). Overall, it’s a solid and stylish attempt at brand building for David Yurman.
Levy Jewelers: “Shop Local”
The panel says:
Caley: As I’m picking out gifts for family and friends, it made me think about how I could support small businesses during the holiday season. The moment between the elderly couple at the end was very sweet as well.
James: I loved the message in this ad. I thought the statistics were particularly compelling. While I’m more likely to shop from a small business after watching this, I’m not entirely sure if this persuaded me toward that specific store/brand.
Jessica: This commercial was cute, and I liked it! While I’m not sure I would shop at Levy Jewelers right now, I would absolutely consider shopping there in the future because it looks like a nice place, and I love supporting small businesses.
Patrik: A very clear message presented in a way that connected.
Sabrina: Great message here, but the text was distracting to me—maybe it was that sparkle effect. It wasn’t super clear to me that this was a jewelry store ad until about 15 seconds in.
Sarene: I really like the overall message of this ad. Shopping locally is so important. The statistics were great. The last shot of the older couple was really heartwarming.
Siena: The message is cute, but I’m not sure if it appeals to Gen Z. It’s got an older feeling, and I don’t think that that’s only because there’s an older couple in the ad. It’s also because of the voice-over and small-town vibe.
My thoughts: This ad for a three-store jewelry chain—which has two stores in Georgia, and one in Florida—doesn’t look cheap, like many local jeweler ads do. Yet, it doesn’t sacrifice warmth for professionalism. This was an excellent ad, my favorite this year.
Mejuri: We Do Jewelry Differently
The panel says:
Caley: While the model showcased the jewelry beautifully, the voice-over felt a little too sales-y for me. It didn’t really grab my attention in a way that would make me feel engaged.
James: Dynamic without compromising the clear presentation of the product, featuring a concise message that’s relatable. Their cornerstone of affordability is a huge allure.
Jessica: I didn’t like this ad because it wasn’t that creative. I already know about Mejuri because it’s a popular place to buy jewelry for people my age…. Out of all the brands here, though, I would most likely buy Mejuri because it’s more affordable and my style.
Maureen: I didn’t like the voice-over style, as it reminded me of department store/clothing ads. I liked the message of the brand being both stylish and affordable but thought it was a missed opportunity to showcase the quality and design of the jewelry itself.
Patrik: Interesting to see that they use the line “fairly priced” in a commercial like this; I feel like this is something that could be advertised on TikTok and people would love it. Also, the products look really nice!
Sarene: I left this ad feeling confused about what exactly they stood for. The cinematography was nice.
Sabrina: I really liked how casual the styling of this collection was. It made the pieces look super wearable for every day.
My thoughts: The idea of a brand “standing for something” is already starting to seem a little played, and this did have a faint department store vibe. I was more impressed with the panelists’ strong favorable response to Mejuri and its jewelry than this ad.
Pandora: “2022 Holiday Film”
The panel says:
Caley: I really loved this ad because it showed people of all different ages and walks of life giving and receiving jewelry. I also liked how the pitch at the end was displayed on the screen, not spoken aloud.
James: This was your typical cheesy holiday ad. A lot of different pieces were put on display, and what I could see seemed nice.
Jessica: I liked this commercial because it was very wholesome. It wouldn’t make me buy from Pandora; I already have a Pandora bracelet that I got for my bat mitzvah. I also didn’t particularly like any of the [non-bracelet] jewelry they showed in the ad.
Maureen: The overall message was perfect for the holidays, and it allowed Pandora to be shown as a bit more luxurious, even though I know as a consumer it is an affordable jewelry option.
Patrik: Love it! I’m already familiar with Pandora, but they did a fantastic job with this ad. Thinking about other people and sharing those moments is what gift giving is about, and this one describes it brilliantly!
Sabrina: Loved this one! Felt like a little movie. The jewelry really sparkled— it was lit perfectly! Not showy but still super eye-catching.
Sarene: This ad is really heartwarming and has a good message. It is all about kindness and helping others, and how gift-giving through love makes it more special, which is the essential idea that jewelry companies should be putting out there, especially around the holiday season. The camerawork made it visually interesting, and I liked that they included actual images of the jewelry to show customers what they are getting.
Siena: This was a very cute ad, but I still don’t like the pieces from Pandora. Something about Pandora’s packaging and branding has always rubbed me the wrong way.
My thoughts: Aside from some inventive camerawork, this seemed very similar to past Pandora ads—especially the dimly lit, homey visuals. (When something is called “2022 Holiday Film,” it’s not likely to break the mold.) It remains an effective formula, and it works well here.
Pandora is obviously a well-known name, and, as you can see, that’s a double-edged sword. Speaking of well-known names, the next ad has two.
Tiffany & Co.: “Lose Yourself in Love”
The panel says:
Caley: I liked this ad, but it didn’t really pull me in. It made me think more about Beyoncé than it did the jewelry. While it’s a stunning shoot with great shots, it convinced me, as a college student, that Tiffany seems really expensive and a little too glamorous for my budget.
James: While this ad doesn’t do much to showcase the jewelry, I love it. I might be a little biased, as not only a Beyoncé fan but a huge Tiffany HardWear fan.
Jessica: I like this commercial because it’s Beyoncé, and I love Beyoncé. However, I don’t think this would make me buy from Tiffany because of my preconceived notions about the brand. I’m not currently at a point in my life where I would be able to afford Tiffany, though I would buy from it in the future.
Maureen: Beyoncé is the epitome of class and style and luxury, which is exactly what I expect Tiffany to associate with.
Patrik: I don’t exactly understand what they want me to buy and why. Otherwise, a nice production to build the Tiffany & Co. brand, I guess.
Sarene: This ad was very visually pleasing and fun to look at. Since Tiffany & Co. is so well-known, they almost don’t need to put their jewelry into their ads. Still, I would be less likely to buy from them since they were not featuring any of their pieces in the commercial—which is so Beyoncé-based that I forgot that it was a jewelry ad.
Siena: This is a more edgy campaign than they usually do. It’s definitely more inclusive but doesn’t feel performative. Mostly because Beyoncé is a person that most people trust and love, so the audience wouldn’t think she’d do anything that wasn’t genuine.
My thoughts: The panelists really love Beyoncé! I have less of a connection with her, and this had a cold aesthetic that I found off-putting.
Zales: “Lab-Created Diamonds”
The panel says:
Caley: I really appreciated the use of color in this ad. It gave it more of a clean, sleek vibe. The vibrant beautiful colors made the diamond ring really pop. The scenery looked a little fake, especially the flower petals falling down, but overall I enjoyed the ad.
James: It was hard to notice the one style advertised over the overly saturated color scheme and bad CGI.
Jessica: This ad was pretty cheesy, and I didn’t really like it. It just looked fake. This would make me not buy from Zales because the quality of the ad might be telling me the quality of the product and diamonds at Zales.
Maureen: I found this ad very generic, with a staged and manufactured vibe that was easily forgettable.
Patrik: It is clear what they are advertising, and I just feel like the romance theme works.
Sabrina: This felt superficial to me, and I wasn’t really able to make a connection. I don’t mind the song choice, but the high saturation and visual effects didn’t do it for me.
Sarene: This ad was simple in a good way. The use of flowers as love blooming was classic, and worked well. It could be more visually appealing if they were actually outside or it looked like they were.
Siena: The colors and tones were visually pleasing and made the rings pop, but it’s still just so cheesy—but that’s expected from Zales.
My thoughts: After two straight years of people asking me to include lab-grown diamond commercials, I finally find one, and it’s…the same as most Zales ads. Even though it’s titled “Lab-Created Diamonds,” it didn’t talk much about that aspect, and none of the panelists expressed an opinion about it, pro or con.
Nice colors, though.
Final thoughts: The Banter ad seemed to go over best with the panel, with the Levy’s and Pandora spots tied for second. The David Yurman and Tiffany spots did well, too, though the latter won a lot of goodwill because of Beyoncé.
My top pick was the Levy’s ad, with Banter and Pandora tied for second. (Banter probably gets the edge because it felt fresher.) This is the first time in ages that my views roughly comported with the panel’s.
What did the panelists like, besides Beyoncé? Mejuri had definite fans. Mall stores, less so. Some like ads with “wholesome” and sentimental themes, which surprised me. They favored affordably priced merchandise, which was less surprising, as this group had a high percentage of students.
Said Caley: “The ads that drew me in the most were the ones that were relatable and not too over the top. I feel like with jewelry it’s easy to get tied up in the glamour and glitz of it all, but as a college student, the ones that were more casual were more enticing to me.”
She adds, “I don’t love voice-overs that try to sell you the jewelry. I think showcasing the jewelry and telling a story is a much more effective way of drawing customers.”
Maureen, who is also a student, said ads from brands like Kay and Zales “have not struck me as a consumer because I am not interested in diamonds, engagement rings, or other higher-priced items like the ones they most often showcase.”
She would “like to see and hear about more details like tarnishing, price points, and the array of options that are a lot of the time not included” in ads and social media posts.
As far as where they saw ads, the answers were pretty consistent: Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. Broadcast TV was not a big factor.
For more on Generation Z, check out this recent panel, and our podcast with its quiz on Gen Z slang.
Thank you to all the great panelists for their thoughtful and perceptive comments. And now I open the floor. What do you think?
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