A 1955 De Beers magazine advertisement.
Observe the "A Diamond is Forever" slogan at the bottom
left of the image.
The slogan that would become the most resilient
in history would be created in the office of N.W.
Ayer in 1947.
||Page 1 2 3 4 5
A necessary luxury
Ayer's marketing plan included public relations, advertising,
product placement in films and on television, radio
programs publicizing diamond trends, portraits of betrothed
socialites, stories and photographs of celebrities for
inclusion in magazines and newspapers - all targeted
at a specific goal - the idea that diamonds were eternal,
forever linked with romance, emotionally valued, and
a necessary luxury.
One strategically successful and aesthetically creative
magazine campaign - The Great Artists - featured the
paintings of Picasso, Derain, Dali and Dufy, accompanied
with poetic copy and prominently featuring four diamonds
ranging from a half to three carats. The idea was to
associate diamonds with the sophisticated subtext of
art. These advertisements appeared in Fortune, Vogue,
Time, The New Yorker and other publications, circulated
mainly to middle and upper class readers.
Ayer engaged jewelers to give talks, lectures, classes
and informal meetings to thousands of young women. Ayer
also arranged for movie stars to appear at social events
adorned with diamonds. The agency used its influence
to modify film scripts and movie titles to feature diamonds
more prominently. One example is the 1941 film, Skylark,
which has the female character shopping for diamonds.
By 1941, the downward trend in retail sales had been
reversed and in just three years, sales of diamonds
in the United States had risen 55%. Ayer's success inspired
the agency to pursue a new goal - to reinforce the "psychological
necessity" of diamonds. An estimated 70 million people
over the age of fifteen would be targeted with future
||A diamond is forever
The slogan that would become the most resilient in
history would be created in the office of N.W. Ayer
in 1947. After a confounding series of unsuccessful
attempts to produce a slogan for a new De Beers advertising
campaign, Frances Gerety, a copywriter at the advertising
agency, prayed for some divine assistance. Before
heading home, she scrawled "a diamond is forever"
on the bottom of a picture of two honeymooning lovers.
It may have had humble beginnings, but according to
Advertising Age, it is the most recognized slogan
of the 20th century, and some ninety percent of all
Americans know it. In less than a year, "A Diamond
is Forever" became the official slogan of De Beers.
Hollywood's association with the alluring gem would
continue into the fifties with "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes",
a box offices sensation starring screen icons Marilyn
Monroe and Jane Russell and featuring the sensuous
song "Diamonds are a girl's best friend". Monroe's
feminine sensuality helped secure the appeal of diamonds
for women. By the end of the 1950s, N.W. Ayer was
pleased to announce to De Beers that its twenty-year
marketing campaign had successfully influenced the
American public to consider a diamond engagement ring
a necessity to the engagement ritual.
Next: 'A New Japanese Tradition'