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As the dawn of the millennium approached, DeBeers Consolidated Mines North America saw an opportunity to increase awareness and sales of the precious product among U.S. consumers.

Using its ageless "A diamond is forever" tag, DeBeers spent $67.2 million in 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting. Although the spending was down slightly from '98, DeBeers shifted its media by cutting its print spending, doubling its out-of-home spending and increasing network and cable to create a more targeted effort.

Richard Lennox, 34, director in charge of the DeBeers account for J. Walter Thompson USA, New York, leads the marketing effort for DeBeers, which does not operate in the U.S. Because DeBeers does not sell diamonds directly to consumers and is mainly concerned with promoting the gem in general, Mr. Lennox is the only agency executive to be named to the Marketing 100 in recognition for his role in the effort.

"We felt nothing could encapsulate the future more brilliantly than a diamond," says the native Brit, who arrived in the U.S. 10 months before the campaign launched in July 1999.

One leg of the campaign was aimed at affluent women, aged 34 to 64, and their spouses. The centerpiece was a 60-second spot, "Crowds." The commercial was shot in a Times Square look-alike setting, amid a celebratory crowd. When the midnight countdown concludes, only two lovers are left to celebrate, diamond in hand.

An extensive out-of-home and point-of-purchase campaign focused on local jewelry retailers.

The secondary target was young women 18 to 34 years old becoming engaged for the first time. They were invited to a specially created Web site ( to design their own engagement ring. This month, DeBeers' relaunched its Diamond Information Center Web site. The campaign set a record rate of growth in the U.S., which accounts for 48% of the worldwide DeBeers market.

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