Xtravagantmas: Jewelry

Posted December 11, 2013, under Ad Absurdum

We’re mostly dudes here at Rigney Graphics, which means that when certain holidays roll around — like Christmas — we’re the targets of pervasive advertising to get us to drop major coin on a product we barely understand the value of. 

“Why do girls like sparkly things?”

Our highly unscientific research into this offensively sexist, age-old question has netted a wide variety of equally unscientific answers.

Some suggest that from an evolutionary standpoint, sparkly water was more likely to be safe to drink, so attraction to such would promote survival. (Notice this theory at least makes no gender distinction.)

Maybe inland, sure. (image source)

That would explain a lot, actually.

Another notion making the rounds: to suggest that only girls like sparkly things is not merely sexist, it’s the product of decades of targeted advertising. Girls are encouraged from an early age to like sparkly things and so, many do. Boys are told that sparkly things are for girls, so such things are to be avoided with all cootie-fearing fervor. To the point where a boy who actually does like the glitter might experience a measure of self-loathing.

It’s a somewhat facile answer, and perhaps overly pop psychology, but there is no denying that ad campaigns can have widespread social effects.

The Power of Advertising

Customs can become so ingrained that people start to think they’re inherent rather than imposed. For example, the whole subject of gender roles and rules, like blue for boys and pink for girls (used to be the other way around, folks). Given enough time and repetition of message, it becomes difficult to separate artificial social constructs from legitimately useful survival traits.

We’ve mentioned before that the popularity of diamonds — especially diamond engagement rings — is the result of an extensive and long-running advertising campaign orchestrated by the De Beers diamond cartel.

It’s gotten to the point where diamonds have utterly eclipsed all other precious stones in the advertising landscape, and jewelry companies never hawk their wares more ardently than around Christmastime.

Going for Broke

Whatever the reason, unlike cars, jewelry for the significant people in one’s life is generally received well. Which accounts for the jewelry industry’s multi-billion-dollar annual gross.

But then this happened.

Fun fact: While including in their number some of the world’s largest diamonds, brown diamonds in general are lower quality, more plentiful, and have traditionally been relegated to industrial application.

Now it appears the diamond cartels are trying to repeat history by changing public perception of the stones.

We can only imagine how that marketing conversation must have gone:

De Beers Executive: “We need to unload these diamonds because that’s all our mine is producing. But brown diamonds are ugly, who would want them?” 

Ad man: “Let’s position them with something else women like. What’s brown that women like?”

Exec: “Denzel Washington?”

Ad man:  “Let’s…not go there. How about chocolate?”

Apparently a similar conversation happened at Axe headquarters.

Hooray for stereotypes and misogyny!