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Alrosa Makes Rare Foray into Generic Marketing

Dec 20, 2017 5:01 AM   By Joshua Freedman
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RAPAPORT... Alrosa is attempting to engineer a Russian culture of buying engagement rings, after launching an advertising campaign promoting diamonds as an emotional symbol.  

The miner, which has traditionally focused on its core business of extracting rough diamonds, is trying to capture the public imagination through a video campaign and competition that encourages consumers to pitch innovative ways to propose. The participant with the best idea will win a diamond ring.

“There is no tradition of engagement ring[s] here, and diamond jewelry is mostly known as a symbol of status and wealth,” an Alrosa spokesperson told Rapaport News. “We want to show that [a] diamond is an emotional symbol, a way to express love to your significant other.”

The project started earlier this month, when Alrosa took up an invitation to place a video commercial in the television coverage of a major hockey game that it sponsored between Russia and Sweden. Alrosa “decided to do something completely new, and use this opportunity to promote diamonds as a category,” the spokesperson explained.

The short ad (pictured, above) featured a young man popping the question with a diamond ring in front of thousands of cheering spectators at a hockey match. At the end, the video announces the Russia-wide competition, seeking out-of-the-ordinary ways of proposing.

Viewers took well to the idea: Alrosa has already received “a few dozen” responses. Moreover, while the ad was in production, a member of the hockey industry with whom Alrosa was working asked if the company could help him propose to his girlfriend in a similar way.

The miner gifted him a ring — featuring a round, 0.70-carat, I-color, SI1-clarity polished diamond — created by Moscow Jewellery Factory, which buys polished stones from Alrosa’s cutting division, Diamonds Alrosa, the spokesperson explained. She added that Russian consumers have more confidence in local diamonds. Alrosa helped to arrange the proposal, which took place during a break in the Sweden game, meaning the 12,000 spectators, having seen the ad, then watched a real-life proposal (pictured).

The ad also inspired an Alrosa employee to organize a staged proposal, though he refused the offer of a ring as he had already bought one. The company instead helped him plan the occasion, which took place at the Russia-versus-Canada game this past Saturday. 

Alrosa will reveal the results of its competition before February 14, it said. One or more winners will receive a diamond, probably with similar specifications to the one the company gifted earlier, though it hasn’t actually chosen the ring yet.

“We want to… encourage [men] to propose in some memorable way. It would be great if more men decided to propose marriage after that,” the spokesperson said.

The cost to the retailer of providing the ring is relatively small, while Alrosa’s size gives it a much stronger ability to promote products, the miner pointed out. This opportunity for collaboration with jewelers has significant potential for marketing diamonds and jewelry in Russia, it noted.

And, so far, the outcome has been positive for the real-life participants: Both of them got a “yes” to their public proposals.

While Alrosa is one of the biggest sponsors of the Diamond Producers Association, it has traditionally put less investment into generic marketing than has its main competitor, De Beers.
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