Shaziya Khan

Senior Vice President & Executive Planning Director JWT

In her presentation Shaziya Khan, director planning, J. Walter Thompson explored a case study from her own career. A client had assigned her agency the task of turning around the conventional outlook for gold and increasing consumers’ preference for diamonds for weddings. A tall ask, you might imagine.

To show how gold-dominated weddings have been for centuries, Khan had this statistic: “For every 13 pieces worn by a bride, eight were gold and less than two were diamond. Gold is deeply associated with auspiciousness, and connotes transfer of wealth.” In India, she said over 90 per cent of marriages are arranged. Horoscope, family background and social status all push personal choice to the background.

“Knowing that the challenge was as much market-based as social and contextual, we redefined our task. It was not about just choosing stone over metal, it was about creating the persona of a new kind of bride and a new kind of wedding.”

Taking a closer look at the markets, she said, revealed that “All communication for weddings are targeted to parents. With good reason, because the parents are the financiers and organisers of weddings.” At the same time, “We observed that brides have a growing role in wedding planning. The typical bride is now far less shy, and wants her point of view appreciated.”

So, said Khan, “We conducted a quantitative survey. The findings confirmed our belief, and we decided to make the bride our target audience, even though conventional wisdom dictated that we target the mothers.” This exercise helped her team to a better understanding, by the method of projective association, of how “a bride adorned in gold differs from a bride adorned in diamond”.

The survey also revealed some interesting associations. “On the surface, gold is about rightness,” Khan explained. “At the same time, gold is a glittering ‘cover-up’ that suggests conformity and vulnerability. Diamond, on the other hand, denoted happiness and freedom of expression. Diamond was the stone for a bride with spark.”

To influence brides’ behaviour, she said, it became important not only to have the right creative but also other associations. “We worked with designers to create looks which brides could shop to. We asked top-notch designer Ritu Kumar to create a look for the diamond bride.” Simultaneously the lifestyle press was inundated with content to promote this new bridal look.

As a result of the campaign, three out of four brides-to-be said they were willing to replace gold jewellery with diamond. There were notable shifts in attitudes and behaviour, and a whopping 95 per cent of the women surveyed wanted to be the diamond bride.

The campaign resulted in “growth in the client’s business, and it imbued fresh meaning in the category.”