Why De Beers Shouldn’t Use “A Diamond Is Forever”

Two important bits of diamond marketing news were announced at JCK Las Vegas 2015:

– De Beers will resurrect its classic “A Diamond Is Forever” slogan for its Forevermark brand.   

– Leading miners are starting a Diamond Producers Association meant (in part) to promote diamonds as a category.

Individually, these announcements make sense. Together they don’t.  

First of all, it’s great that De Beers is taking “A Diamond Is Forever” out of mothballs; it remains one of the most venerated slogans in advertising history. (According to legend, it was created in the middle of the night by a bleary-eyed copywriter, who prayed for a line, typed it, then conked out.) For the last few years, it was being used by the De Beers retail chain, but it basically languished—a sad fate for one of the most formidable weapons in the industry’s arsenal.

That said, the line was created to promote a product: diamonds. It wasn’t designed to promote a diamond brand but the diamond category as a whole. 

About a decade ago, when De Beers was first experimenting with a proprietary product, some joked its new tagline may be “Our Diamonds Are Forever.” But of course, that wouldn’t work. The slogan works only when talking about all diamonds. 

So why not let the Diamond Producers Association use it? The organization is launching with a paltry $6 million annual budget—there are diamonds that sell for more than that—so why not give it a boost by letting it use one of the most celebrated ad lines of all time? 

In addition, the DPA may eventually want to distinguish natural stones from synthetic diamonds. And the slogan is well suited for that. A natural diamond was formed a billion years ago. It’s forever!

On the other hand, it’s not as suitable for the Forevermark brand. “Forevermark. A diamond is forever” is, well, redundant.

More importantly, the Forevermark has always had an issue with its reason for being—what distinguishes it as a brand. Its current tagline is “Beautiful. Rare. And responsibly sourced.” You can argue whether that is a world-beating selling proposition—the “responsibly sourced” part is the most novel aspect, and retailers tell me it’s the most potent—but it’s something. By saddling Forevermark with a generic logo, it makes the brand even less distinctive. 

If De Beers is wants to bring back a golden oldie, how about the soundtrack from its Shadows commercials? (That little symphonic burst became so popular it was released as an album, called Diamond Music.) Using that would certainly perk up the ears of anyone who watched TV during the 1990s, and it remains potent enough that millennials might respond to it, too. 

Finally, if De Beers did give the slogan to the DPA, it wouldn’t be totally altruistic. The slogan includes the word forever. And whose brand contains that word? 

“A Diamond Is Forever” stands as one of the greatest pieces of ad copy ever written. But it has become too big for one company. It is now part of the fabric of our industry. That is who should use it.

JCK News Director