De Beers’ Holiday ‘Celebration’

De Beers’ Diamond Trading Company will “bombard” male consumers this holiday season with ads urging them to “celebrate their love” with diamonds.

“The theme of our holiday campaign is that male consumers should go out and tell the woman how much they love her and how they appreciate the constancy of her and how much she does for them,” says Wendy Trees, account director and senior partner for J. Walter Thompson, De Beers’ U.S. advertising agency. “And there is no better way to do that than with a diamond.”

JWT hopes this emotional message will resonate in these uncertain times.

“This year has been discombobulated and shaky,” says Trees. “The stability and constancy of a loving relationship has become the backbone that keeps people going. Priorities have shifted for men, and they are not just about job, status, success. They really appreciate the importance of family, and it’s something that they are more willing to talk about and be proud of.”

This year’s holiday campaign is very similar to those of past years—and that’s deliberate.

“We have been very successful at getting men to buy diamonds at Christmas,” says Trees, noting that Christmas sales of diamond jewelry have increased 45% since 1999. “We’ve found a model that we’ve used since the millennium year, and now we’re just fine-tuning and putting bells and whistles on it. Every year, we invest heavily in this occasion, and it pays back many times for us.”

Of course, the economy remains a concern. At press time it’s still sluggish, and no one at JWT is sure whether consumers will be in a buying mood this holiday.

“We are optimistic about the season, but we are also realistic that we are going up against some formidable hurdles,” says Trees. “We need to work hard. It’s not a time to step back and take our budgets down. We have to be as strong as last year or even stronger. That’s why we are going in with all our guns blazing.”

The big three. There will be three main campaigns this holiday:

  • Anyone who lives in one of the top 10 diamond markets has seen the DTC’s “Seize the Day” ads, which nudge nervous men to buy diamonds for Christmas. This year, those ads will be back—in “out of home” locations like billboards and bus stations as well as publications with large male readerships like USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and Sports Illustrated. The ads will start around Thanksgiving and may repeat last year’s “Christmas countdown” as the holiday draws nearer. There also will be a heavy online presence, including a repeat of last year’s “Win a Diamond” competition.
    “We want to surround the male consumer,” Trees says. “We want to get him when he’s on his way to work, when he’s commuting, when he’s home watching football, and when he’s online. We want to be literally everywhere.”
    The advertising will use a cross-section of messages to attract a cross-section of men.
    “The beauty of the ‘Seize the Day’ campaign is that it can contain a lot of different tonalities,” Trees says. “Sometimes the best way to get a man’s attention is to aim straight for the heart. Other times, it’s by being witty and humorous and talking about different things about the relationship. We cast a broad net.”
    In two instances, the “surrounding” will be literal. At Grand Central Station and Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, JWT plans to employ “Station Domination,” placing jumbo-sized ads next to each other so that they’re impossible to miss.

  • Also continuing at Christmas: the DTC’s “Statement Diamond” campaign, which urges buyers to trade up to bigger stones. The ads contrast a woman’s feelings at getting a small diamond (“palpitations”) with her reaction at getting a bigger one (“somebody call the paramedics”).
    “We feel the ‘Statement Diamond’ message is an important one for Christmas since it’s such a low-price-point occasion,” Trees says.
    The DTC also is bringing back last year’s “declaration” commercial, where a man expresses his love for his beloved in Venice’s St. Marks Square with a three-stone ring.
    It’s also producing a new Christmas-themed commercial. There will likely be two versions of this ad: One will feature a “past, present, future” three-stone piece, and the other a “staple solitaire,” possibly studs.

  • Finally, De Beers will intensify its campaign for the right-hand ring. Printed ads aimed at affluent women will appear in more than 30 fashion and lifestyle magazines from September through December.
    The right-hand ring is being advertised as a fashion item, not a “gift of love,” which seems at odds with the rest of the campaign. But Trees says it will appeal to a certain kind of customer.
    “The best way to think about the right-hand ring is similar to a Fendi bag or a designer coat,” Trees says. “It’s a great gift for a husband to get his wife at Christmas—particularly if she hints that she wants it.”
    The right-hand ring will be featured in “Seize the Day” because “it’s an important product offering to have in the mix,” Trees says. “We always want to bring in something new to keep women excited and seed their desire.”
    Trees adds that since the right-hand ring campaign is just beginning, she doesn’t expect a substantial sales increase until next year.