how the company used advertising to make all girls dream of a diamond ring

Sales increased 93 times from 1939 to 1979
Return on marketing expenses – 2520%
10% of women received a diamond ring in 1938, and in 1951 the percentage increased to 80%!

In 1938, as the United States was recovering from the Great Depression, De Beers turned to New York advertising agency NW Ayer to create a campaign to promote diamonds. At that time they were not an important part of the “zeitgeist” and were cheap due to lack of demand.

Some men gave their brides diamond engagement rings, but this was not a widespread tradition. Therefore, NW Ayer decided to work in two directions.

Over 40 years, from 1939 to 1979, wholesale sales of De Beers diamonds in the United States grew from $23 million to $2.1 billion.

This success was repeated in Japan. De Beers launched a campaign that promoted the diamond engagement ring as a symbol of modern Western values. In 1967, only 5% of women in Japan received a diamond ring before their wedding. Already in 1981 this figure increased to 60%.

Today, De Beers no longer has as much influence as it did at the height of its popularity in the mid-20th century. However, her legacy endures and diamond rings are still a popular engagement gift. But things can change—diamonds may not last forever after all.

  • Advertising budget: from $200,000 (0.86% of revenue) to $10 million (0.47% of revenue) / year.

  • Sales volumes from 1939 to 1979: from $23 million to $2.1 billion. An increase of 93 times

  • Return on marketing expenses – 2520%

  • 10% of women received a diamond ring in 1938, and by 1951 the percentage had increased to 80%

DeBeers advertising campaigns


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