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Staying Relevant in the Coronavirus Era


May 14, 2020 9:08 AM   By Avi Krawitz
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During lockdown, there comes a time when one simply doesn’t want to be told anymore that we’re in this together — “even though we may be apart.”

While plunging further down that YouTube rabbit hole, as we all often have in the past three months, ad after ad has tried to lift our spirits with corporate pep talk. Some appealed to our emotions, but more stood out through humor or a clever play on the coronavirus reality.

Some companies redesigned their logos to promote social distancing, leaving us with spaced-out Coca-Cola signs and separated McDonald’s arches, Volkswagen Vs and Ws, and Audi’s four circles, to name a few. They drove home the message without preaching.

The challenge for brands, it seems, has been to stay relevant and at the same time not sell.

That’s been especially true for high-ticket items such as diamonds. Marketing that directs consumers to spend on discretionary items such as jewelry would be inappropriate at a time of peak unemployment. Rather, this is a moment for companies to demonstrate their values, De Beers executives stressed in a recent podcast with Rapaport News.

“When [thinking] about marketing and messaging, [focus] on the social good that people are doing as it relates to COVID-19, or you shouldn’t talk at all,” said Stephen Lussier, executive vice president for consumer and brands at De Beers. “Leading brands see where they can use their resources to make a difference in this fight.”

Adding to that sentiment, David Prager, De Beers’ head of corporate affairs, noted that even before the crisis, consumers increasingly wanted to know that a company acted responsibly and reflected their own values.

“People care about the values that you bring to the market,” he said. “That means that they care about how your values survive the pressure test of the crisis. For us, that translates to how we treat our people and aid our communities.”

The contribution that De Beers makes to its communities and the environment has become central to its public relations effort in the past few years. Those include its enormous undertaking to relocate 200 elephants from the overpopulated Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve in South Africa to Zinave National Park in Mozambique. And it has been a focus of the company’s messaging during the COVID-19 crisis, highlighting both its financial contribution and social effort in the fight against the virus.

De Beers is not alone. Millions of dollars have been donated to the cause by diamond miners, manufacturers and jewelers, some of which have been highlighted in our news coverage on throughout the lockdown. They’re just a few examples of the tremendous contribution the industry has made to communities around the world. More are shared on the Diamonds Do Good website (, which has called on members of the trade to tell their COVID-19 stories.

“We all need to read stories of hope and positivity, now more than ever,” said Anna Martin, president of Diamonds Do Good. “There are wonderful and inspiring stories from our own industry, of how we can give back to communities in good times or challenging times such as these.”

Companies are contributing because it’s the right thing to do. The added benefit is that it makes for good public relations. Whereas before, companies shunned such marketing as ostentatious, today it is arguably the most effective messaging one can do in an appropriate manner.

The time will come when we return to traditional marketing. The diamond has all the ingredients to capitalize on the new post coronavirus world order in which consumers will want to celebrate their relationships and milestones. Our product is famous for pulling on those emotional heart strings.

But if the current crisis has shown one thing, it is that consumers are increasingly relating to values. It’s time to celebrate the big heart our industry has, especially as we demonstrate how connected we all are at this time of being apart.

Image: Shutterstock

This article was first published in the May edition of Rapaport Magazine, which is available to all here.

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Tags: Audi, Avi Krawitz, Coca Cola, De Beers, diamonds, Diamonds Do Good, Jewelry, McDonalds, Rapaport, Volkswagen
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