When Matt Coen and his sons watch NFL football, there's one commercial that never fails to crack the boys up. It's the Jared's spot in which a guy proposes on an airplane and the flight attendant makes an announcement.
Mr. Coen himself remembers seeing jewelry ads in Sports Illustrated and thinking how "ridiculous" that was -- until he was ready to propose, and recalled the ads down to the four C's lesson of color, cut, clarity and carat. "It's content marketing," said Mr. Coen, president of software-platform-promotions company Second Street. "You move from thinking it's funny or it's ridiculous to 'Hey, wait a minute -- that's me.'"
Jewelry ads on football are a big business, especially around the holidays. Combined TV spending for Jared, Kay Jewelers and Zales Jewelers during NFL football programming was $42 million in November and December 2012, up 4% from 2011, according to Kantar Media.
Jewelry spending for this year is expected to be even better thanks to a confluence of factors: easing of the recession, more women watching football and more weddings planned for 2014. (Last year was slow, according to TheKnot.com, in part because of reluctance by some couples to have "13" in their wedding date.)
"The NFL is just a smart move, especially with more female viewers now who are more involved with the [engagement] ring choice," said Denise Favorule, exec VP-national enterprise at TheKnot.com.
The NFL ads aren't just focused on engagement rings, even though 16% of engagements occur in December. Jewelers also know what the Knot's other research shows: More than half (55%) of people return to the same jewelry store where they bought their engagement ring to buy wedding bands, and 73% return to that retailer for future jewelry-gift purchases.
Around $11 billion is spent annually on wedding jewelry, according to the Knot. Total U.S. jewelry revenue is $32.8 billion, according IBISWorld. "Hooking [consumers] early with your store and your services is a lifetime value of jewelry purchases," Ms. Favorule said.
Jared and Kay's parent company, Sterling Jewelers, declined to comment. Zales did not return calls.
NFL Network Director of Sales Brad Van Nostrand said the overall NFL fan base is 45% female. "It's a cross-section of targeting -- men giving gifts to women, and women who plan on shopping for themselves," he said. "The jewelry category has always shown strong interest with the NFL ... [especially] for the past six or seven years. It's really an annual thing."