De Beers’ Shadows Campaign from the ’90s!
If you press your ear to your window, you can probably hear the sound of Hallmark executives singing, “We’re in the MONAY,” while popping bottles of Dom and that means it’s one of their biggest money days of the year: VALENTINE’S DAY! And since it’s the official day of romantic capitalism romance, I’m going to pay tribute to the De Beers’ Shadows ads that terrorized us all in the ’90s.
De Beers, not to be confused with DA BEARS, was born in 1888, and during the 1940s, they started to use marketing to manipulate people into thinking that diamonds are the ultimate symbol of everlasting love. Nobody was really buying diamonds that much, so Mary Frances Gerety, a copywriter working for the ad agency N. W. Ayer & Son, came up with the slogan “A Diamond Is Forever” to market De Beers diamonds to couples as a way to show off their bright, shiny, indestructible bond. Advertising Age magazine called it the best advertising slogan of the 20th century in 2000. And of course, that slogan inspired the James Bond movie and song, Diamonds Are Forever.
And in the 90s, Da Beers used the slogan in their Shadows commercials, which were cheesy opulence wrapped in creepiness and doused with overdramatic foolishness. It was as if M. Night Shyamalan directed a romance movie starring shadow puppets. In all of the commercials, mysterious shadow people mark a big moment in their lives with a diamond. The commercials played all the time and the music, Palladio by Karl Jenkins, takes up permanent real estate in my brain to this day.
In this one, shadows go from flirting during a romantic bike ride to dirty dancing at a party to a romantic dinner to getting engaged with a diamond engagement ring before this ultra-romantic tagline pops up: “The Diamond Engagement Ring. How else could 2 months salary last forever?” When this commercial came out in 1991, my annual salary was $0, so I should’ve gone to my nearest De Beers retailer, picked out a diamond engagement ring, and let them know I was going to pay with 2 months of my yearly salary like the commercial says before handing them a pile of air and dust.
Throughout the ’90s, there were other commercials where the shadow couple got married, welcomed a kid, celebrated their 10th anniversary (with diamonds, of course), and then celebrated their 25th anniversary (again, with diamonds):
De Beers should do a follow-up ad and keep it real this time. They should show the shadow wife catching the shadow husband in bed with a shadow hussy and then running off to a shadow lawyer’s office to file for divorce and demand EVERYTHING before celebrating the end of her shitty marriage by buying a… wait for it… wait for it… divorce diamond. Because while your marriage didn’t last forever, a diamond will!