HEARTS ON FIRE (1997-2001)
LAUNCHING A FIREBRAND DIAMOND
(National Introduction of the Hearts on Fire Diamond Brand)
Honorable Mention, Public Relations Society of America—New York Chapter
From a virtually unknown product when it was first introduced to the market in 1997, in just a year’s time Hearts On Fire® rose to prominence among its network of 150 exclusive small jewelry stores as one of the few leading perfectly cut branded diamonds in the world. The concept of a branded diamond cut in a special way to give it perfect symmetry and extra sparkle was rather radical at the time, in addition to the fact that this uniqueness made it cost about 20% more at retail.
Zlokower Company, a New York agency, was retained in 1997 to help launch Hearts On Fire, differentiate it from its competition, expand its channel of distribution, and boost sales and attract investors. The diamond grossed $10 million in its first year on the market.
Following two very successful years marked by major national trade and business media placement as well as selected regional holiday event-driven consumer publicity, Hearts On Fire asked Zlokower Company in 1999 to provide a major push in its sales efforts and significantly build the brand in the public’s eye. At the same time, it was necessary to maintain and build on Hearts On Fire’s image in the trade and business sectors.
To fulfill these objectives, we needed to solve several problems. One was to come up with an innovative, creative campaign to stimulate interest for Hearts On Fire amidst the barrage of products competing for attention. Second, we needed to assist, excite and motivate current and potential retailers to both buy and promote the diamond. Finally, with the client’s need for capital, we had to continue to keep the company’s name in front of the financial community.
Love Bags Teaser Campaign and Fashion Media Tour:
To generate interest and gain entrée for an on-site presentation of the diamond to the top-tier fashion/lifestyle/wedding publications, we put together a teaser campaign of tastefully designed, eye-catching “Love Bags”, which we distributed by messenger and Federal Express just prior to Valentine’s Day, the biggest diamond-selling holiday of the year. Each red bag was decorated with pink tissue and ribbons and personally addressed by hand calligraphy to the appropriate fashion or accessories editor. Contents included: A box of Godiva chocolates; a Hearts On Fire crimson jewel box with a romantic poem about love inside and an insert that said, “This Could Be the Start of Something Big;” and an invitation with product copy on pink hearts stationery entitled “Valentine’s Day…A Time for Love,” encouraging editors to make appointments to see this special diamond. In the months that followed, meetings were set up between Hearts On Fire representatives and 25 media to present the diamond mounted in beautifully styled jewelry, distribute photos and press material and develop story lines, fashion layouts and other editorial venues for the product.
Additional Consumer Media Outreach
Although the fashion media tour served as the core of our consumer publicity program in 1999, we supplemented it with other tactics designed to foster incremental consumer media awareness. This included Hearts On Fire’s collaboration with the Jewelry Information Center in crafting a syndicated article on new diamond cuts and the creation of a special Valentine’s Day photo story to go out over the AP Photo Wire.
Retailer Support Program:
In concert with targeted Hearts On Fire retailers, we conceived and implemented a series of holiday contests (e.g.: Valentine’s Day), celebrity charity and Master Diamond Cutter events. Annual sales incentive trips to Antwerp, Belgium for top-selling Hearts On Fire jewelers and the Hearts On Fire University for retailers continued to gain momentum in the press, although for the first time the latter was actually attended and covered by leading jewelry trade publications.
Nature of Diamonds Museum Tour:
Following the success of the first stop on its international tour in 1998, i.e.: The American Museum of Natural History in New York, we again helped Hearts On Fire get chosen for inclusion in the “Nature of Diamonds” exhibit, which was held this past year at the San Diego Museum of Natural History. The diamond is now scheduled to continue on tour to the National Science Museum in Tokyo in Autumn 2000.
TRADE & BUSINESS PROGRAM:
Business Media Relations:
A big component of our p.r. program was working closely with such leading business media as The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Bloomberg Business News, Nation’s Business, CNBC, CNN and CNNfn to set up interviews and develop story lines of interest to the client’s financial and retail audiences, including Hearts On Fire’s sales growth, the trend toward cut in diamonds, and the importance of branding in diamonds.
International Trade Show Coverage, Speaking Engagements, Branding Roundtables:
Interviews and speaking engagements at key jewelry trade shows were arranged for Hearts On Fire spokespeople as well as participation in prestigious branding roundtables conducted by the trade media. Zlokower Company also played a pivotal role in getting the president of Hearts On Fire elected to the boards and arranging client sponsorship opportunities with such influential jewelry organizations as the American Gem Society and the Gemological Institute of America.
By the end of 1999, Hearts On Fire’s national visibility in the fashion/lifestyle/wedding media had jumped considerably, with publicity appearing in Marie Claire, Bride’s, Modern Bride, Bridal Guide, Playgirl, Unfold and The New York Times, and stories scheduled in Glamour, Essence, Mode and theknot.com, among others, in 2000.
Major company profiles and features broke in Forbes magazine, the Boston Business Journal and Marketing News and aired on CNNfn’s “Enterpreneurs Only” and “Business Unusual.”
In each city where retailer diamond-cutting or charity events occurred, we succeeded in generating local TV, radio and newspaper, as well as trade magazine coverage for both the store and Hearts On Fire diamonds.
Solid long-term relationships were cultivated with important national and international trade press editors, insuring a steady stream of new product publicity, feature profiles and other company news throughout the year.
Hearts On Fire reported that at the end of 1999 it had increased its national customer base to 320 retailers and sales to $30 million, much of which the company’s management attributed to the success of its marketing communications efforts. Zlokower continued its program which included a national “diamond cutter tour” through the end of 2001.