De Beers to Promote Diamond Value

De Beers plans to double its marketing budget this Christmas to its highest level ever—with a campaign built around the idea that “diamonds are the ultimate icon of enduring value.”

The campaign is aimed at persuading consumers to “think about diamonds as things that last,” said De Beers external and corporate affairs director Stephen Lussier. “It’s the idea that if diamonds hold a value, that makes them a smart thing to buy.”

Lussier noted that De Beers conducted research at the height of the financial crisis and found consumers were looking for fewer, better things. “We have all had a life of plenty,” he said. “But how many of those things endure, and how many of those things do you really treasure? How many of those things have significant meaning and are things that you keep and pass on and not just send to the thrift shop—particularly in the fashion era, where so many things are disposable?”

Emmy Kondo, Diamond Promotion Service’s planning director, noted that its research shows that “women clearly want diamond jewelry, but they think that maybe a flat-screen TV is a more practical choice.”

Kondo added, however, that luxury consumers perceive diamond jewelry as safer than stocks, real estate, and fine art. “It even came out ahead of cash in a safe deposit box,” she said.

The campaign will tie that message to the familiar theme of diamonds as a gift of love. “During recessionary times, self purchase goes down, gift purchase goes up,” Kondo noted.

The new campaign’s print ads attempt to have a conversation with the reader, said Richard Lennox, group account director for the De Beers account at JWT. They have longer body copy, a whiter look, and are topped with lines like “Two things last longer than time. Love is one of them,” “Some bonds are still worth investing in,” “Here’s to less,” and “Here today, here tomorrow.”

A revamped version of De Beers’ popular “Hands” commercial, which shows a young couple passing an older one walking in the park, is now backed by an instrumental version of “Stand by Me.”

The ad campaign will feature studs, diamond solitaire necklaces, Journey pieces, three-stone jewelry, and engagement rings.

In addition, a massive public relations effort will include a segment on the Today show, a diamond giveaway on The View, and in-person appearances by Diamond Information Center personnel on local TV stations throughout the country, according to DIC director Sally Morrison. “The idea is not just to make as much diamond noise as possible, but follow the footprint of the advertising campaign,” Morrison said.

Lussier said the notion that diamonds hold value is supported by market fundamentals. “There is actually no way to look out to the future and think that diamonds are not going to be rarer and more valuable in time than they are today,” he said. “If you look at diamond reserves in the ground, they are at their lowest level since the 1970s. Most of the mines are getting older, and a lot of them are coming to the end of their lives. This is a rare product that is going to get rarer in the next 20 years. That gives confidence to the industry.”

Lussier doesn’t think recent talk of price decreases (see sidebar) contradicts that basic message. “Those declines are still moderate compared to anything else,” he said. “Polished prices are still ahead of last year. Good luck finding anything else that is ahead of last year. And if you look at the long-term fundamentals, there is only one way that prices are going to go.”

Further information on the campaign can be found at www.dps.org.