Industry Ad Agency Goes ‘Out of Africa’

RLA Creative Inc., a Cresskill, N.J., advertising agency serving the jewelry industry, recently went halfway around the world—literally—for one of its clients.

South African Diamonds (distributed in the United States by SA Gems Inc.) charged RLA with the task of demonstrating that diamonds can be branded with points of difference and sound consumer benefits. The firm had previously been positioned as a private-label diamond collection for independent jewelers.

Although SA Gems supplied clients with elaborate African-inspired imagery and even sponsored retailer trips to South Africa, their message was not being translated to consumers; indeed, often the marketing materials they supplied weren’t even being used.

The company wanted to make a stronger statement for its diamond jewelry. RLA planned the campaign with the concept of a “standard.” If France is the standard by which many wines are judged, and German engineering is the standard to which many automobiles are compared, then surely South Africa must be established as the standard for diamonds.

With this concept in mind, the agency built the core of the campaign: All loves are legendary, but only one diamond: South African Diamonds Private Collection—from which the tag line “Create Your Own Legend” was distilled. The entire campaign was created in South Africa, using a Johannesburg-based production crew.

The campaign, which was evocative of the glamour era of safari travel (and the 1985 movie Out of Africa), included such props as a 1930 Gypsy Moth biplane, a 1932 Rolls-Royce Phantom, and a 4,300-pound elephant. Set designers also created a mahogany sleigh bed and elaborate modesty screens common to the era, plus a working mechanical gramophone, a washstand with mirror, a fully operational 10 × 8 plate camera, a picnic set, cushions and throw covers, and a wardrobe and set of dinnerware reminiscent of the era.

The end result was a multifaceted campaign that launched to the trade in Las Vegas last year and to the public in the fourth quarter of 2005. Elements included a consumer brochure, a 30-second TV commercial, print advertising (magazine and newspaper), outdoor billboards, and an in-store video. More than 100 independent jewelers participated in the fourth quarter of 2005. A minimum buy-in of $65,000, not on memo, was required.