De Beers, founded in 1888, controls thirty five percent of the world’s diamond production. We recently helped launch The Exceptional Diamond Collection, a selection of their most exclusive stones. Often I’m asked about my work with De Beers, and here are some of my answers.
How did you land this prestigious account?
A cold call more than a decade ago! De Beers was ruled a monopoly, and antitrust laws prevented them from operating in the States. They opened “The Diamond Promotion Service” as a marketing company in order to stimulate diamond sales without directly selling. I called the marketing manager, and convinced her to see me. I didn’t get any work right away, but I kept in touch. When they worked out their legal issues and went to retail with Forevermark, the marketing manager reached out to me. I hope it was my work that was memorable, but it may have just been my presence and my persistence.
The agency of record is J Walter Thompson, why the switch on their most expensive/exclusive product line?
The job perfectly suits my skill set. The program involves only about twenty five diamonds per year, the best of the best. The design is too specialized to produce with a big agency; everything is personalized.
We created a hardcover Journey Book for every stone, photographically tracking the life of the diamond from mine-site to market. Packaging included a personalized metal name plate with the customer’s name engraved on it. We made a silicone replica of each rough diamond before it was cut. The money spent on the collateral materials, as well as our attention to detail, is unprecedented. See the packaging in the video below.
What was your inspiration for the ads?
I wanted to create a single iconic image that would tell the whole story of the diamond’s journey from mine to market. The idea of showing the cut diamond literally coming out of the rough made perfect sense. We shot a 40 carat rough and a 22 carat Asscher cut diamond and merged the two in post production.
Attached is the pitch deck that won the approval of the corporate office in London. I sold the concept by framing the shoot through the lens of art history. Anyone who pitches business will find it worthwhile.
Why did you decide to work with Raymond Meier, and what did you learn from him?
I was literally working on the world’s best diamond product; involving one of the world’s best product photographers made perfect sense. Raymond takes his time and never lets you know how hard he’s worked to get the results. He is selling a product (photography) but also a service. He sweats the details in private (via retouching) so you don’t have to. When I walk into a room at the Four Seasons and everything is perfect, I’m not interested in how long it took to press the linens.
What are you most proud of about this project?
My biggest achievement wasn’t getting the work, it was selling the best possible talent, Raymond Meier, into the job and securing the funds for his inclusion. Yes, I’m proud of having dreamed up the concept but knowing who to go to to pull it off is what is making the program a success at retail.