Retailer of the Week: Bernie Robbins Fine Jewelers

The first full work week after New Year’s is a good time to look back on some of the better Christmas campaigns retailers held this holiday season. Of the many events promoted on Facebook, perhaps the most memorable was Bernie Robbins’ Holiday Magic Contest, a fairly straightforward writing competition distinguished by the mammoth media buy that surrounded it, which was in the “mid-six figures,” according to owner and president Harvey Rovinsky.  

Based in Somers Point, N.J., Bernie Robbins Fine Jewelers has a long history of staging spectacular Christmas events. One year, the company rewarded a shopper with a $10,000 shopping spree tied into a wish-list campaign. The following year, that sum was divided equally among Bernie Robbins’ four stores, giving four lucky recipients a $2,500 shopping spree.

This Christmas, Bernie Robbins wanted to do something different. With locations in New Jersey and the Philadelphia area, Bernie Robbins’ marketing team, led by Rovinsky, approached the producers of the NBC Philadelphia affiliate’s 10! Show, a morning lifestyle and news program.

The show’s producers wondered if the retailer would be willing to help orchestrate a live engagement during the show on Dec. 22.

“We were a little hesitant at first,” says marketing coordinator Rebecca Hasson. “Every nickel of our Christmas budget was spoken for, but given the grand opportunity this presented, along with the help of Hearts On Fire, we dug a little deeper and found the extra money to make this happen.”

Boy, did they. The high-end retailer seized the opportunity to beef up its bridal business with a targeted TV and radio campaign around a Christmas-themed writing contest dubbed “Why I deserve to get engaged live on The 10! Show.” The judging criteria were based on an accumulative point system based on strength of argument (50 points), passion (25 points), and creativity (25 points).

The goal was to send a clear message that Bernie Robbins is accessible to bridal shoppers no matter their spending power. When pricey TV ad rates fell shortly after November elections, the campaign got its start. The 10! Show film crew shot an on-location piece at Bernie Robbins’ Radnor Hotel store with its new Hearts On Fire boutique as a backdrop on Dec. 13.

The grand prize, a Hearts On Fire Transcend Dream Solitaire ring, went to Jonathan Smith, whose heartfelt letter about his fiancée, Stacy Orr, earned high marks from the judges. Here’s what he wrote:

“When I was 7, I watched When Harry Met Sally for the first time. In one scene, Harry says, ‘When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.’ I was too young then to understand its meaning or significance, however, a few weeks ago when flipping through channels and came across that scene, I couldn’t help but smile, as not only did I know what Billy Crystal was telling Meg Ryan, I was also smiling because I realized that I found my Sally. I would like to propose on this show because it would allow me to do something special, especially now. My girlfriend has been distraught recently, as three of her grandparents have been in and out of the hospital, and it would be nice to do something that would surprise her and make her smile, as she hasn’t done that much lately. I hope you realize how much this would mean to us, because right now, the best thing for both of us would be to just see her smile.”

Jonathan Smith and his fiancée Stacy Orr pose with Bernie Robbins’ owner and president Harvey Rovinsky on the set of the “10! Show”

Smith’s letter was one of 50 entries. Between the contest participation, the huge Christmas media buy, the television and radio commercials that saturated their markets with the store’s bridal message, and the special in-studio and on-site 10! Show tapings, this was a big win for the store.

“The segment has positively enhanced our public image and generated a lasting impression in the minds of viewers,” says Hasson. “Now people know that Bernie Robbins will work with you no matter what your budget. This campaign helped enhance our bridal image while letting bridal customers know that complete engagement rings start just below $2,000 and that we can work with couples no matter what their budget. That in itself was a big win for us.”

The contest also boosted Bernie Robbins’ social media platforms. The contest helped double the store’s Facebook “likes” and the owners hope to quadruple that number by the end of 2011. And rich content from the writing contest was uploaded to Facebook, which got a lot of buzz and interaction.

As a vendor, Hearts On Fire was “very happy with the results,” says Hasson. “Their executives said it was the best segment involving their brand they’d seen all year.”