Viral Spiral: James & Sons Fine Jewelers

James & Sons Fine Jewelers’ “Girlfriend” video reminds
male suitors that when planning a surprise marriage proposal, they need to make
sure any and all evidence of the ring purchase is concealed – especially the
receipt. The James & Sons’ “Girlfriend” video, which has received more than
4,600 unique views since it was uploaded on Feb. 7, 2008, was so good Retail
Thursday had two video marketing experts weigh in on it: Our regular contributor
Nick Failla, and Howard Morris, creative director of Final Cut Marketing, Inc.
(an ad agency that specializes in serving the gem and jewelry industry).  

First to
weigh in is Failla:

“Let this be a lesson to all men about to become
engaged. If you are going to surprise her, for goodness’ sake, you’d
better do a good job of hiding the ring receipt! A lesson to be had for
all our retailers desiring to reach the engagement market, don’t hide the
humor!

Does this week’s funny/scary commercial from James &
Sons depict an urban myth or an actual happening? I’m not really sure, but
what I am sure about is this commercial is an attention grabber. 

“When a man is about to purchase an engagement ring there is
often a great deal of uncertainty accompanying the process. Will she like
the one he picks out? How does he know if he’s getting a fair deal? What
happens if she says no? What happens next if she says yes? Where does he
go for answers?

“For the retailer, that last question is the most important
one to address and in turn to convince potential customers in your marketplace
that you indeed are the one stop shop to get all the answers they need. The
commercial created for James & Sons does this very well using a humor to
deliver its message. It lets the potential customer know that James &
Sons understands there is often a great deal of anxiety surrounding the
purchase of an engagement ring but in the end when you make your purchase from
James & Sons, it all turns out great.

“The added benefit of this video being so entertaining is
the urge to share it with friends is nearly irresistible. Maybe those
friends aren’t getting engaged right now, but when they do, they will surely
think of James & Sons!”

Howard Morris noted that the video’s depiction of a crazy
girlfriend had way more potential to go viral than a classic jewelry
commercial:

“One of the principle challenges in advertising is to be seen
and heard above the sheer cacophony of sales messages out there. The odd way
James & Sons’ viral video, ‘Girlfriend’ succeeds is by plugging into our
need to see a train wreck and then, in response, to pass on the experience to
other people. ‘Check out this James & Sons Jewelers video,’ you might
e-mail a friend.

“‘This woman is crazy!’ Bingo. A YouTube-era advertising
impression is created. Maybe not a great one. Maybe not a romantic notion or
one that espouses anything particularly great about the store. In this spot one
is left to wonder who is crazier, the girl pounding the guy’s car or the guy
himself for actually following through with the proposal. But the question is,
would a ‘tasteful’ spot that calmly trumpets the store’s wonderful selection or
unbeatable prices and quality sales people command thousands of YouTube hits
and prompt the viral distribution of e-mails that say, ‘Hey — you gotta watch
this!’?

“All I can say is there was probably a nice, tasteful
billboard for some business on the highway near that car accident you crept by
the other day. Did you notice it?

“The next time someone who has seen this spot has a notion
to buy a piece of jewelry, James & Sons may strangely bubble into
consciousness.

“If that mere fact ends in the impulse to stop in and take a
look and the cash register ends up ringing…another crazy viral video has worked.”