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A Diamond is Forever

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– De Beers Clever Marketing Strategy

When I first read this story, I was intrigued by how clever the marketing strategy was and how it has lasted through the decades. As a result, I wanted to share this fascinating story with you.

In the 1930s few Americans proposed with a diamond ring. Then, through some clever marketing, the diamond engagement ring was born.

In 1938, amid the ravages of the Depression and the rumblings of war, Harry Oppenheimer, the De Beers founder’s son, recruited the New York-based ad agency, N.W. Ayer to brighten the image of diamonds in the United States, where the practice of giving diamond engagement rings was not a common one.

The price of diamonds was falling around the world and De Beers needed a strategy to create a multi-faceted demand for diamonds in a way that hadn’t been widely marketed before. A copywriter at Ayer, a woman, Frances Gerety, was set the task of persuading young men that diamonds (and only diamonds) were synonymous with romance and that the measure of a man’s love (and even his personal and professional success) was directly proportional to the size and quality of the diamond he purchased. Young women, in turn, had to be convinced that courtship concluded, invariably, in the presentation of a diamond ring. The brilliant concept was to create an emotional link to diamonds, the sentiment being love, like diamonds, is eternal.

So, in 1947 Frances came up with the now-iconic slogan “A Diamond is Forever”. These four iconic words have appeared in every De Beers engagement advert since 1948.

“A Diamond is Forever” gives the concept of eternity, perfectly captured the magical qualities that the advertising agency wanted to attribute to diamonds and diamonds only and the sentiment De Beers was going for – that a diamond, like your relationship, is eternal.

Between 1939 and 1979, De Beers’s wholesale diamond sales in the United States increased from $23 million to $2.1 billion. Over those four decades, the company’s ad budget soared from $200,000 to $10 million a year.

A 2014 report by Bain & Company noted that China, India, and the United States will drive the majority of growth in diamond-jewellery consumption over the next decade, in part because of growing interest in diamond engagement rings in India and China, and stable interest in the U.S.

These days you will be hard-pressed to find someone whose engagement ring doesn’t involve a diamond of some sorts, which just proves that advertising can have a substantial impact on culture and can change the way generations of men and women view the institution of marriage.

It’s fascinating how De Beers and N.W. Ayer created such a demand from a diamond by coming up with a clever story and value proposition that gained worldwide appeal for their product – and it’s still successful today. 

The Drum
The Atlantic

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About Marlaine Andersen

I had been working for Leads 2 Business, as Deputy HoD for Private Projects for over 10 years and now I am still with L2B, working in the Customer Relations Department as Advertising Co-ordinator and Digital Designer. A radical change and a challenge, but I am loving it!

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