WGC to begin a multi-million campaign to enhance the image of gold

The World Gold Council (WGC) will soon begin a worldwide media campaign to reposition gold in the minds and hearts of consumers as well as those in the trade.

WGC officials in the U.S. announced this country’s portion of the campaign in New York on Friday to members of the trade press. The night before, in London, the WGC unveiled the worldwide marketing campaign to members of the fashion and design community.

The campaign in the U.S. alone will cost $7 million, focusing on an ad campaign in fashion and lifestyle consumer magazines from August through December, said Michael C. Barlerin, WGC corporate director.

”We’re dealing with a global campaign with the U.S. launch as its most important part,” Barlerin, told the gathering of trade journalists in a New York restaurant. The campaign will be similar in all countries, he added, but it will be ”tweaked for the U.S.” market.

In addition to advertising in the consumer press, some advertising will be done in jewelry trade magazines to preview the campaign to the jewelry industry. In addition, the campaign will be introduced at the Couture jewelry Collection & Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., in late May, the JCK Las Vegas Jewelry Show, June 1-5, and VicenzaOra2 in Italy also in June. The ad campaign will be unveiled at the Vicenza show, Rick Bannerot, WGC, U.S. advertising and marketing manager, told JCK. The advertising will be wrapped around copies of the International Herald-Tribune that will be distributed at the show.

The ad agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty, LLC, New York, designed the magazine ads and Edelman Public Relations Worldwide, New York, is handling public relations.

The ad campaign will focus on the sensual, spiritual value of gold; its historical significance; and the way it is admired and valued for its, beauty, warmth, and sensuality, Barlerin said. As part of the campaign, the ancient circular symbol for gold used by alchemists-who, along with ancient cultures such as the Incas and Egyptians, equated gold with the sun-has been revised.

The visual aspect of the ad campaign plays off the discrepancy between the cold, stark ”heroin-chic” fashion images that have been lauded in recent years and the true desire for a meaningful lifestyle, explained Kathryn Harvey, Bartle Bogle Hegarty account executive.

The ads will be multiple pages (from three pages to eight-page ”gatefolds”). The first page or spread will feature a stark, dark (mostly black and white) minimalist look at fashion. Consumers who turn the page or open the fold will be greeted with models on a beach wearing gold jewelry. The beach and sky are colored in a golden hue, again pointing out the warmth of the precious metal.

”We had to develop a distinctive and relevant campaign to have people think of gold differently,” Harvey said. ‘We need to reappraise gold for what it is, a sensual and warm metal. And to provide that balance into their lives. A cold stark world contrasted with a gold world.”

Barlerin emphasized that the campaign will focus on the high-end market and will hope for a ”trickle-down” effect throughout the consumer chain.

The campaign will attempt to restore the value of Gold in the mind of consumers. In some of the marketing material and in a short-film shown at the New York and London gatherings, it says that gold has been trivialized by excessive exposure in the marketplace-from cheap gaudy jewelry to its use on products that have nothing to do with the metal, such as ”gold” credit cards or ”gold” club memberships.

”Today gold has fallen from grace,” a British voice says on a video clip of gold-colored water that blends into gold-colored sand. ”Seen by many simply as a symbol of wealth or, worse still, associated with consumer products of almost no intrinsic worth at all, gold has been overshadowed both as an investment and as a symbol of quality.

”This is the story of how we will re-awaken the desire for gold and re-establish its rightful position as the most precious of metals.”

And it’s a story that has been two years in the making according to Barlerin. That’s when the gold mining industry decided it was time to address the issue of increasing consumer demand for gold in a unified fashion.

Barlerin said in 1999 two things happened to make this campaign a reality: First, gold producers became more committed to marketing to Western countries and doubled their contribution to the WGC to see that happen. Second, was the realization by the industry that gold needed an image makeover. The commitment was set at a 1999 WGC meeting in Paris.

”For the first time, the council approved a multi-national program for gold,” Barlerin said. ”One global voice for gold.”

By the end of the year, the results of this unified commitment should be seen.