Saturday, February 13, 2010

A gem of a Valentine's Day spot.

(In honor of the holiday, a brief digression from our "sex and self-help" theme.)

Have you seen this one? Take a gander, then we'll talk.


"I'm here," he says, after the lightning bolt. You're here? BFD. Like your presence is gonna make a difference if lightning actually strikes? (Besides, if he were my guy, I'd be genuinely worried that his nose might serve as a lightning rod.* Jesus...)
But that's not the point, of course. The point is that she's just such a helpless little fragile thing that she couldn't possibly survive the storm and its thunderclaps psychologically intact were it not for the presence of Her Rock.

Speaking of her rock, that's when he gives her the diamond. Part of Kay's "love's embrace" collection. At which point we get the tagline:

Surround her with the strength of your love.

("Motion sickness bags are located in your seat-back pocket, for your comfort during flight....")

And then, the piece de resistance, from her: "Don't let go. Ever." Of course, she says this only after getting the jewelry.

Sigh. I've concluded that I take these things way too seriously
I should just laugh it all off, or maybe groan it all offbut I can't help thinking that these ads reinforce our worst tendencies and stereotypes...and I wonder why gals in particular aren't livid. Do diamonds really mean that much to you?

* No, I've got no business talking about noses. But you don't see me doing TV commercials, do you?)


Jay said...

This stuff is disgusting. It infantilizes men, who are let off the hook for actually observing their women's preferences and offered the default gift of an overpriced rock. It trivializes women, who are supposed not to understand the depth of their fella's love until he ponies up the jewels.

There's nothing wrong with a cut diamond. Everyone should go to a museum and see how impressively a skilled artisan can turn a worthless piece of rock into a lovely piece of art. But this cultural obsession with diamonds signifiers is unhealthy and ridiculous.

Steve Salerno said...

Jay: Thanks for dropping by. I think your opening point about men and "default" gifts is a particularly astute subtlety that deserved to be included in the post itself. Glad you brought it to the fore.

RevRon's Rants said...

We all owe a debt of gratitude to DeBeers for their success at elevating a nominally rare commodity (with less inherent value than, say, rubies and emeralds) to the level of a cultural and emotional icon. Good for the jewelers' business, and serves to reduce human romantic relationships to a more manageable process of commercial exchange at the same time. Truly a fait accompli!

Anonymous said...

The De Beers story is particularly interesting, from a marketing point of view.

The history of creating a monopoly, ensuring false scarcity, meddling in war for the benefit of the company bottom line, blood diamonds and the wholesale removal of indigenous people from their ancestral lands gives a whole new meaning to 'Diamonds are forever.'

Rampant capitalism, which will never let us go, if it can spot an emotional hook on which to hang a sale.

Steve Salerno said...

Nice of Michael Moore to join us. ;)

(Hey, I often agree these days.)

Michael Moore said...


'Capitalism is not "the free market". There have been markets in every single social set-up since we got out of hunter-gathering, and there will probably be markets in a classless society. What characterises capitalism is:
a) the ubiquity of the wage- or salary-labour relationship (i.e. someone owns resources, hires labour to turn them into saleable products at less than that labour produces, and pockets the difference);
b) the ubiquity of commodities - increasingly everything, not just goods and services but entire areas of human existence, is produced as a tradeable, for-profit commodity.'

Steve Salerno said...

[Readers will note that the above comments are not, in fact, from the Michael Moore]

LizaJane said...

This commercial really rubs my fur the wrong way. It's just so insipid. Definitely inspires nausea.

But yeah, I really do like diamonds.

I suppose the seller has to come up with a better tag line than, "It's a sparkly clump of coal that'll cost you an arm and a leg." A story helps move the merchandise, I suppose. Why it has to be THIS idiotic story, I don't know.

Anonymous said...

I think diamonds are lovely, but I don't personally like them for myself. I was beyond thrilled when my potential husband pulled out a ring (he had made for me) that was covered in small filigree, with teeny rubies here and there on the band (a few, and we added two more for each child born). Now, he wants to put a small diamond in it, and I won't let him.


LizaJane said...

Kimberely, any gift made by hand, with love and care, is the best sort. I'd be thrilled with that ring. But I'm also pleased with my modest, old-school diamond. My husband's no craftsman : ).

RevRon's Rants said...

"But I'm also pleased with my modest, old-school diamond."

Guess we all have to "settle" once in awhile, don't we? :-)

VW = finga

Anonymous said...

"The diamond invention is far more than a monopoly for fixing diamond prices; it is a mechanism for converting tiny crystals of carbon into universally recognized tokens of wealth, power, and romance. To achieve this goal, De Beers had to control demand as well as supply. Both women and men had to be made to perceive diamonds not as marketable precious stones but as an inseparable part of courtship and married life. To stabilize the market, De Beers had to endow these stones with a sentiment that would inhibit the public from ever reselling them. The illusion had to be created that diamonds were forever -- "forever" in the sense that they should never be resold."

Steve Salerno said...

Anon 6:59: Thanks. I think I've actually read that before somewhere, though not in The Atlantic itself.

What's funny (and ironic) about that is that one of the first things many top diamond retailers will emphasize in selling you a stone nowadays is its "investment" potential--i.e., OK, yes, you're spending a great deal of money, but a diamond, unlike most cars or furs or what-have-you, never loses its worth, and in fact usually appreciates along with inflation. Which of course is a veiled way of saying, "Look, I know we're talking about 'forever' and all that, but if push comes to shove you can always sell the damn thing and get your money back someday..."

Martha said...

The good thing about Valentines Day is that eventually the commercials stop. Jay complains that they infantalize men. I've been thinking that they infantilize women. The Vermont Teddy Bear commercials made me want to puke, as did the pajamagrams. They practically said, "buy this for her and you're ga-run-teed to get laid."

As for the thunderstorm commercial, I was expecting a ring. But nooooo. A necklace? A necklace says, "let's go steady." All that hoopla and weather drama for a fking necklace? Spare me.

And how's about this for a commercial tag line: Every kiss begins with B for blood diamond.

But maybe that's just me.

Martha said...

P.S. Boy howdy! You're right about the guy's conk! That's hilarious.

Steve Salerno said...

Martha: When I read your p.s. I did a doubletake at first, till I realized that the word you'd written was actually conk. But I still wanna know why it's ingrained in the culture that we have to do special things to get laid. Doesn't everybody, male and female alike, want to get laid, well, just because?

Martha said...

You've got a point there. As it were.

RevRon's Rants said...

"And how's about this for a commercial tag line: Every kiss begins with B for blood diamond."

My meager efforts to keep my comments in relatively good taste preclude overtly correcting you on this one, Martha, but if Kay's commercial contends that every kiss begins with K, perhaps something that starts with B would be more appropriately associated with blood diamonds.

The movie Crazy People dealt with it pretty directly, in the form of an ad for Jaguar automobiles. Just sayin...

Steve Salerno said...

Ron: One of my favorite flicks. "I'm Manuel Robles... I'm Latino and I enjoy it." Cracks me up every time.