In the current economy, some can afford to buy diamonds and some might need a little help to do so. A new advertising campaign by Hearts On Fire, the Boston-based diamond company, hopes to have something for all types of buyers.
Instead of hiring a traditional advertising agency, the company has collaborated with an in-house creative team at Hearst Magazines for a new campaign with customized messages in digital and print ads. The company says it also hopes to increase awareness of its brands by building a social media community.
The campaign will be rooted in 82 print spreads that will run in seven Hearst magazines over 16 months. One of the main goals is "to show the power of print and how it moves consumers into the funnel and brings them all the way down to the purchase," said Michael A. Clinton, the president, marketing and publishing director of Hearst Magazines.
The content of the print ads will vary slightly in each magazine based on its target audience. For younger fashion-conscious readers of Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and Redbook, ads will highlight lower-priced items. The more affluent readers of Harper's Bazaar, O, The Oprah Magazine and Town & Country will see higher-priced items.
"It's not unusual for someone from Town & Country to pick up the phone and buy a $32,000 piece," Judith Bookbinder, the vice president of creative communications at Hearst, said, referring to readers of the magazine.
Male readers of Esquire will be encouraged to buy diamonds for the women in their lives. The campaign also seeks to entice women to purchase items like diamond hoop earrings or pendants for necklaces for themselves.
Before the new Hearst campaign, Ms. Bookbinder described previous ads by Hearts On Fire as "very traditional, everything you've ever seen in a jewelry ad." Instead of featuring a simple image of the product, Ms. Bookbinder said, the new ads show real quotations from the brand's Facebook page describing jewelry as "bling-tastic" and "a menagerie of twinkles."
The ads showcase quotations about the jewelry from two fashion bloggers, Christine Cameron of My Style Pill and Stephanie Johnson of SJ's Style Compass. They also will write about the diamonds on their blogs.
Each month, users who "like" the Hearts On Fire Facebook page will be entered in a contest to win a piece of diamond jewelry. And users who need a little guidance before committing to a jewelry purchase can call one of the company's "Perfection Stylists" to help them select the right bauble. In anticipation of the campaign, the company expects to expand the number of phone agents on call to about 25, from three, and will counsel customers seven days a week. In addition to aiding potential consumers with diamond purchases, the stylists can also act "as a platform to let people tell us what they'd like to be seeing in terms of products and price points," said Caryl Capeci, the vice president of marketing for Hearts On Fire.
The ads will also feature Web addresses linking each ad to its corresponding publication (HeartsOnFire.com/Esquire) and Quick Response, or QR, codes that consumers can use to go to HeartsOnFire.com. Once on the site, the users will be asked to share their own diamond stories and will be entered into a contest to be featured in one of the ads.
The use of QR codes and specific Web addresses will allow the company to learn more about its customers. "We can see who's coming, what are they buying," Ms. Capeci said. "We can optimize media and designs. It gives us an opportunity to really look more closely at our consumers." Consumers who may not have all of the money for a diamond purchase up front can enroll in the company's payment plan, which asks for a 35 percent down payment and six monthly installments.
"We wanted to be competitive in the payment plan area," said Glenn Rothman, the founder of Hearts On Fire. "If we can give people an opportunity to get into the brand with a down payment through the payment plan, then that would add to the success of the program."
Another feature of the campaign is a revenue sharing model where Hearst will get a percentage of the sales generated through the campaign, though representatives from Hearts On Fire and Hearst declined to say what the terms would be. The model could represent a new revenue stream for the publisher.
"That's part of it," Mr. Clinton said. He was the chief creator behind, "The Power of Print" a recent advertising campaign that extolling the virtues of print over digital content. The campaign was supported by Hearst, Time Inc., Condé Nast, Meredith, Wenner Media and the Association of Magazine Media.
The Hearst team says it hopes the Hearts On Fire campaign will drive home the point that print is still a major consumer vehicle, even if that consumer ultimately ends up on the Web. "Effective creative in print today needs to have a lot of digital enablers," Mr. Clinton said, referring to advertising.
According to the Kantar Media unit of WPP, Hearts On Fire spent $3.8 million on advertising last year. For the first quarter of 2011, it spent $1.6 million, Kantar reported.
The partnership between Hearst and Hearts On Fire also represents a small evolution in the way brands interact with agencies. The Hearst Creative Communications team is handling all aspects of media planning and buying in addition to producing the creative elements of the campaign. Traditionally, those tasks would have been handled by several companies.
"Marketers are interested in partnering with us in much more and different ways," Ms. Bookbinder said. "We've known the power of print. This is just a way of really making sure how that manifests."