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Diamond Storytelling


Jul 3, 2015 1:29 AM   By Avi Krawitz
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RAPAPORT... For those thinking that the ‘A Diamond is Forever’ advertising campaign will easily resonate with millennials, think again. De Beers has a lot of work to do before it relaunches the iconic slogan in late September, as part of Forevermark’s U.S. holiday marketing campaign.

After all, the formula that worked for decades and spanned generations as a generic advertising campaign cannot simply be plugged into today’s marketing environment. The current generation of consumer buys differently, communicates differently and engages differently with each other and with brands, products and companies.

Millennials – the generation born between 1980 and 2000 – are not passive absorbers of marketing ideas and they have a shorter attention span. Whereas ad-men could easily find baby boomers and generation Xers watching TV and reading newspapers, millennials are supreme multi-taskers, streaming their favorite shows online – without those annoying ad breaks – while reading their customized news feed on Twitter and Facebook. They’re highly mobile and tech savvy and engage with their peers in an unprecedented manner - be it through texting, chatting, tweeting, pinning, sharing, liking or posting on any of the countless social media platforms available today.

Indeed, while De Beers is confident that millennials are moved by the same emotions and desire for love and commitment that ‘A Diamond is Forever’ stirred in previous generations, it recognizes that how a brand engages with consumers is radically different today.

“In the past, the focal point of a campaign was a 30-second TV commercial that would communicate a message, and in that way the advertiser told you what he thought you should believe,” Stephen Lussier, CEO of Forevermark explained to Rapaport News. “That is far less effective against the millennials and it’s harder to get that message across. Furthermore, a message articulated in that way is far less believable than it was to previous generations.”

Of course, the forthcoming campaign is not only geared toward millennials. The 30-second TV spot is still aimed at driving older generations to the stores. They are the ones with the money to spend on fashion diamond jewelry. But millennials are the ones buying their first diamond engagement ring and the idea is to influence their spending 10 years from now.

To achieve that, Lussier stressed that marketing to millennials should revolve around the concept of storytelling as opposed to advertising or communicating statements.

Similarly, Rio Tinto, in its “Diamonds with a Story” campaign, notes that consumers crave a story line. “Stories inspire and engage and add an extra dimension to our lives,” the company explains. “They appeal to our deep desire to connect, and, in the case of diamonds, stories add emotional value.”

Both De Beers and Rio Tinto have recognized that millennials want to be engaged with the story behind the diamond. It’s the story that gives meaning to the purchase, for which consumers are prepared to pay more.

However, that comes with some challenges. Lussier notes that stories take longer to tell, should be inherently more interesting and entertaining and are less commercially oriented – they don’t try to sell the product directly.

Therefore, while Forevermark’s ‘A Diamond is Forever’ campaign will use 15- and 30-second TV spots featuring a solitaire diamond engagement ring, those adverts will only serve as a starting point for the story it hopes to tell. Lussier explained that the campaign will continue to tell that story through social media where it will use celebrities, bloggers, and, especially, customers’ peers to keep the conversation flowing.

“Advertising is only part of the story,” he noted. “You have to get others on your side to tell your story in their own words if you are going to be believed.”

Consequently, perhaps the biggest challenge facing brands today is getting millennials to talk about the product in a positive way. Secondly, a brand must aim to prolong its engagement with consumers as much as possible before they even get to the store.

Millennials, and others, spend more time researching their diamond purchase, and so De Beers wants to direct them to its consumer website where they will finally be directed to the store. The longer it can engage them in the story – between TV and print advertising, social media and its branded website – the more successful that brand engagement will be.

Measuring a campaign’s success has also changed. Whereas a decade or two ago, the success of a typical advertising campaign might have been measured by the number of sales during its run time, today, De Beers will be looking at the level of engagement with the brand in the short term and whether attitudes have changed toward the product in the long run.

Perhaps that’s why Lussier refers to the campaign as being one of brand-engagement, rather than brand-awareness. After all, even millennials know that a diamond is forever, they’re just not sure why that is.

As such, Lussier argues that the forthcoming campaign’s underlying message is almost tailor-made to suit millennials’ needs. The narrative – based on De Beers research on what millennials want – is that a diamond is unique, has enduring value, is natural, and is making a positive impact on the environment and community from which it is sourced. All those are core values that millennials look for in a product – or should, according to the campaign.

Similarly, Rio Tinto has chosen four themes in its ‘Diamonds with a Story’ campaign that it believes are important to millennials. The company commissioned jewelers to design pieces of diamond jewelry that tell the story of: Rio Tinto’s ability to sell an ethically-sourced, sustainable product; its pride in a diamond’s mine origin and country; the company’s access to a unique range of color diamonds; and the sense of fun and playfulness that its production provides.

“Our insights confirm that today’s generation of American consumers are more apt to purchase jewelry that can claim the origin, is colorful and fashionably designed and made with care,” the company states in its catalogue. “This is at the heart of our ‘Diamonds with a Story’ concepts.”

De Beers and Rio Tinto are using very similar language, both in expressing the need to tell a story about diamonds and in the story being told. Certainly, the rest of the industry should take note as it contemplates a new generic campaign, now that ‘A Diamond is Forever’ is brand-centric.

As Lussier told jewelers and manufacturers at the Rapaport Breakfast in Las Vegas this June, the industry needs to vastly improve its marketing content and empower consumers to engage in the diamond dream and journey. The industry absolutely needs to guide the conversation with millennials through its own positive messaging. De Beers and Rio Tinto are showing that there is a positive narrative available for everyone to use.

For in truth, the industry doesn’t need ‘A Diamond is Forever’ to drive generic marketing. It’s the idea behind the slogan that De Beers is betting will resonate with today’s millennial consumer. By creating fresh content that develop those ideas, there’s no reason that others, and the industry as a whole, should not have a story of their own to tell – one that ultimately encompasses the longevity and value of a diamond, well beyond the life of its most iconic slogan.

The writer can be contacted at

Follow Avi on Twitter: @AviKrawitz and on LinkedIn.

This article is an excerpt from a market report that is sent to Rapaport members on a weekly basis. To subscribe, go to or contact your local Rapaport office.

Copyright © 2015 by Martin Rapaport. All rights reserved. Rapaport USA Inc., Suite 100 133 E. Warm Springs Rd., Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. +1.702.893.9400.

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Tags: A Diamond is Forever, Avi Krawitz, De Beers, diamonds, Diamonds with a Story, Forevermark, Jewelry, Lussier, Rapaport, Rio Tinto
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