Philly Jeweler Takes Fun Seriously

Steven Singer, owner of Philadelphia’s Steven Singer Jewelers, created one of the most successful—if somewhat counterintuitive—ad campaigns ever launched by a retail jeweler, and it’s still going strong after 11 years.

The “I Hate Steven Singer” campaign had its origins in 1998 when a customer told Singer he hadn’t purchased a gift of jewelry for his wife since their engagement nearly 20 years before. With her 40th birthday coming up, several hints made it easy for the husband to buy the perfect ring for the milestone birthday.

The birthday celebration included a couple of surprises. The first was a surprise party. The second was a surprise baby. During a later visit to Steven Singer Jewelers, the wife, still enthralled with the ring, and with the new baby in tow, said: “I love Steven Singer Jewelers.”

The husband, anticipating months of midnight baby feedings and countless diaper changes—occasions he had thought were long behind him—replied: “I hate Steven Singer Jewelers.” And a campaign was born.

Singer’s other edgy (and often suggestive) campaigns include—but are certainly not limited to—the following:

  • Singer is a longtime advertiser on the Howard Stern radio show, and one of his first promotions on the show was the “Size Matters” campaign. Playing on the obvious sexual overtones, the campaign had fun with a central message of impressing a woman with a large diamond. “If you want Tiffany’s, we’re not it,” says Singer. “We like to make jewelry stores fun and less intimidating.”

  • This year marked Singer’s fourth annual “World’s Largest Bubble Bath” event. Bikini-clad women, and more recently men donning Speedos, get the chance to navigate through a store full of bubbles to find plastic eggs containing $50,000 in prizes, including a pricey diamond engagement ring. “The event always gets great coverage, not just with radio but local TV stations,” says Singer. “This year the local Fox affiliate ran the event for 22 minutes.”

  • Singer’s most successful marketing strategy is sponsoring Wing Bowl, the second-largest eating contest in the nation. Scheduled on the Sunday before the Super Bowl, the annual event is held in Philadelphia’s Wachovia Center where 23,000 fans watch eating champs like John Squibb gorge on chicken wings.

For 10 years, Singer has created a Wing Bowl championship ring, similar in size and detail to a Super Bowl ring, topped with a diamond. Singer also creates necklace and pendant designs for the Wingettes, women who dress up in lingerie or bikinis while escorting Wing Bowl contestants to the stage.

“This event is scheduled just weeks before Valentine’s Day, so we’re always busier than normal at this time of the year,” says Singer.

To check out some of Singer’s other campaigns and promotions, visit www.stevendingerjewelers.com and www.ihatestevensinger.com.

Do you have a retail success story you’d like to share with your peers? If so, e-mail Paul Holewa at paul.holewa@reedbusiness.com.