Retailer Spotlight: Smyth Jewelers Weds Toon Icons

Beer and salty snacks: the perfect pairing. This time-honored taste combination was what brought consumer product icons Mr. “Natty” Boh and Miss Salie Utz together in Smyth Jewelers’ “Where Maryland Gets Engaged” campaign. This week’s retailer spotlight shines on Smyth Jewelers in working with the campaign creator MGH Inc., to unite the iconic couple in holy matrimony after a four-year engagement on a billboard in the heart of Charm City, advancing a hugely successful campaign for the Baltimore-based retail jeweler.

For the uninitiated, “Natty Boh” is the local colloquialism for National Bohemian Beer, which was brewed by National Brewing Company until 1979. (After several buyouts over two decades, the beer is now brewed and distributed by Pabst.) During his tenure as president of National Brewing Company, Jerold Hoffberger also owned the Baltimore Orioles. He made sure “Natty Boh” beer was served at Memorial Stadium, making it the “official” beer of Baltimore in the late 1960s. Mr. Boh—the one-eyed, mustached cartoon icon—was created in 1934.

In the neighboring state of Pennsylvania, William and Salie Utz (pronounced like “nuts”) started Hanover Home Brand Potato Chips in 1921. The once at-home business expanded quickly and became Utz Quality Foods—today the largest privately held snack food manufacturer in the country. Most people quickly identify the Utz brand by the company’s beloved corporate icon, the Little Utz Girl, who can be found on many Utz product lines.

With the two having so much in common, the creative folks of MGH brought the iconic beer and snack cartoon figures together in 2007 as the central figures for Smyth Jewelers’ “Where Maryland Gets Engaged” campaign. After a four-year engagement period, people in Maryland and neighboring markets starting asking the jeweler: “When will the couple be married?”

That question was finally answered last month when Smyth Jewelers used the highly anticipated union to kickoff their new 30-second TV commercial chronicling the courtship and eventual marriage of the Mr. Boh and Salie Utz.

The 30-second commercial chronicling the courtship and marriage of Mr. Boh and Salie Utz has received more than 5,200 unique views on YouTube.

MGH was instrumental in creating a memorable wedding ceremony. Actors in life-size Mr. Boh and Salie Utz costumes played out the civil wedding ceremony. It was a two-minute ceremony hardcore locals—as well as beer-drinking fans and salty-snack aficionados—could love: A flower girl dropped potato chips on the aisle instead of flower petals; the couple’s vows were scripted using references to how beer and salty snacks go together; and Salie handed out gifts of snacks to those who attended the ceremony at Power Plant Live.

The timing of the wedding and the new TV ad dovetailed nicely with Smyth Jewelers’ Diamond Dash. The promotional perfect storm proved to be very effective. “Response to the commercial and the wedding ceremony was phenomenal,” says Ruth Ann Carroll, director of advertising at Smyth Jewelers.

The wedding kicked off Smyth’s Second Annual Diamond Dash preparty at Power Plant Live.

In addition to garnering local and regional media attention, the store’s social media outlets leading up to the civil ceremony lit up like crazy. “Smyth Jewelers’ Facebook and Twitter accounts were already buzzing with activity with the Diamond Dash,” says Kerry O’Neill, a PR account director for MGH. “But the Mr. Boh and Salie Utz wedding ceremony definitely brought it up a notch.”

Even though the cartoon couple is married, Smyth Jewelers will continue to use their Mr. Boh and Salie Utz engagement billboard as the central message of their ongoing “Where Maryland Gets Engaged” campaign. Although the campaign is only four years old, using iconic figures has made Smyth’s campaign symbolic in its own rights.

But Carroll is tight-lipped on whether the cartoon twosome’s married life will be chronicled further in the context of promotional campaigns—be it a honeymoon, children, and even perhaps milestone anniversaries. “We’ve thought about and discussed some of these possibilities, but we haven’t made any decisions yet,” says Carroll. “For now the media coverage and market reaction to the wedding was more than he had hoped for.”