August 5, 2005

And that still leaves them with eight more fingers to go


Eric Berlin has a funny post about the insulting campaign to sell diamond right hand rings.

You can almost see the executives who dreamed up this campaign, sitting around the conference table, on speakerphone with the businessmen in Africa. "The problem," said one of them, "is that most women only have one diamond. Their engagement ring. Maybe one other if we're lucky, although that'll probably be some family heirloom from a hundred years ago. Doesn't get us bupkis."

"It's not just that women have only one diamond ring," said another. "It's worse -- they think they only need one diamond ring."

Sullen silence around the table. What a thought! To only need a single shiny rock mined from the earth by damn-near slave labor!

But a smart guy like Eric should know better than to call the campaign "desperate and transparent," since it is, after all, only a continuation of one of the most wildly successful marketing campaigns ever, the original DeBeers campaign that created the twin myths that diamonds were 1) valuable and 2) a symbol of romance. "It is essential," wrote ad-man N. W. Ayer in 1951, to generate "constant publicity to show that only the diamond is everywhere accepted and recognized as the symbol of betrothal." Of course the diamond right hand ring is a crock. So was the diamond engagement ring. Why shouldn't the same trick work twice?

Also no diamond exec would complain about diamond rings being family heirlooms since they're also the ones who created the idea that "the only proper way to 'dispose' of diamonds was to hand them down to a female descendant." The "Diamonds are Forver" slogan was devised largely to prevent the creation of a secondary market.

It's too early to tell if they've still got the magic, but the signs are promising. "After DeBeers started the right-hand diamond ring marketing campaign about a year ago, sales jumped 21 percent in the first quarter of 2004, the Diamond Information Center reported."

Posted by Daniel Radosh

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