The De Beers Diamond Campaign

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Diamonds as a luxury

Before 1870 diamonds were considered very rare. They were usually used by royalties to decorate their crowns or jewelleries.  However in 1870 enormous deposits were discovered and the increase in supply flooded the market. Around the late 1800s De Beers bought out the South African mining areas, controlling both the country’s market and essentially the world’s diamond market as well. Their monopoly over the region allowed them to restrict the flow of supply which in turn enabled them to keep their prices high.

Prior to De Beers marketing campaigns, surveys show that most Americans thought diamonds were luxuries only affordable for the ultra-wealthy class. Women preferred men to spend their money on items such as a washing machine or a new car but not a diamond studded engagement ring (as its value did not seem very equitable to the amount spend on it)

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The De Beers’ Diamond Campaign

In 1938 De Beers met with Gerold M. Lauck from advertising agency N. W. Ayer to work on a campaign aimed to tackle the decreasing demand for diamonds. The agency then went in the direction of tying sentiments to their advertising campaigns by linking it to an emotional angle. The success of this direction was so great that it eventually created a situation where anyone considering to propose had to save up for not just any engagement ring, but a diamond ring.

In 1947, “A diamond is forever” slogan was then created, eventually becoming  the company’s official motto.

The Campaign Details

    1. Establish social status for large diamonds
      • Starlets were given hefty stones
      • Glamorous photo shoots
      • Script-doctoring Hollywood movies to include scenes of jewellery shopping
    2. Manipulation of the act of giving
      • Movie scenes featured a hero presenting his partner a big diamond and watching her eyes grow wide with joy.
    3. The presence of diamonds in a relationship soon became an inseparable part of courtship and marriage
      • A reproducible act–a script for life, not just film.
    4. Other techniques De Beers used
      • Sending representatives to high schools to provide classes to teach girls about the value of diamonds
      • Feed younger girls romantic dreams
    5. Through advertising, men were convinced that the size of the diamond in an engagement ring showed how much they loved their fiancée
    6. The diamond went from being a status symbol to an emotional one–love measured in carats

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De Beers’ diamonds is a perfect example of how an all rounded well thought intelligent marketing campaign is capable of shifting consumer’s perception from one angle to another.

The campaign has successfully converted the image of diamonds as being a luxury item for the ultra wealthy, to something that most now see as a essential “rite of passage “, one that every man would invest in to mark the start of their family building process, and one that women sees as an indication of love and commitment – the ultimate symbol of marriage.

The campaign was a success because:-

  • Diamond prices were high and as such were not easily available
    • It had to be something that consumers have to work hard for
    • The concept of limited supply and demand

 

  • Variety of  platform used supplemented each other
    • The use of print media made sure the campaign was seen by the masses
    • The injection of the campaign concept into movies made the idea dream like; a fantasy that most women dreamed about, while men is able to feed their ego by fulfilling it
    • The use of starlets, which was idolised by many, made their  ideals something consumers aimed to be able to replicate

 

  • Sustainability
    • It’s all about feeding the idea to generations to come to ensure sustainability
    • The technique of reaching out to young girls and instilling this romantic idea into them, ensures that they bring this idea with them throughout their growing process
    • Keeps the woman wanting diamond engagement rings, and keeps men believing that this is a “rite of passage ” to marriage

 

This diamond marketing campaign is an extraordinarily effective campaign, partnered with a strategic control over supply releases, De Beers executed the most effective monopoly of the 20th century.

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Ref:
http://www.stayfreemagazine.org/archives/16/diamonds.html
http://www.businessinsider.com/history-of-de-beers-2011-12?IR=T
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rohin-dhar/diamonds-are-bullshit_b_3708562.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/05/fashion/weddings/how-americans-learned-to-love-diamonds.html?_r=0
http://youthvoices.net/discussion/diamond-engagement-rings