If You Want It, Put a Ring On ItJanuary 21, 16
We all know the story. Boy meets girl, boy and girl date for a while, boy proposes to girl with a diamond ring, they get married and live happily ever after. At least that is the heteronormative Disney version of the theory.
Times, however, they are-a-changin’, at least, that’s the case if you look at Belgian publication Flair Magazine, which has launched an “Ask him to marry you” campaign to encourage women to reverse those “traditional” roles and propose to their partners. After all, this is a leap year and Valentine’s Day is coming up.
Up for grabs for the best proposal – which in this digital age requires competition entrants to photograph or somehow record the event and upload it to the magazine’s website – is a diamond engagement ring worth €2,500 ($2,700). The ring is supplied by the Antwerp World Diamond Centre. The competition information, however, does not reveal whether the engagement ring is his or hers.
Beyonce’s song “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” encouraged men to take control and acknowledge that if they wanted to marry their lady, then they need to do something about it, “Cause if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it.” The Flair competition turns that image on its head, and says that women are strong and independent enough to go after what they want – including doing that most “manly” of tasks – proposing.
In western culture (possibly with some variations), it is no longer seen as unusual for women to ask out men. The theory that women can ask men to marry them also holds strong. According to a 2014 Associated Press-WE TV poll, a majority of respondents would be okay with a woman proposing to a man.
However, more than a third of people under the age of 30 said they viewed a female proposal as “unacceptable.” In reality, only 5 percent of married couples reported that it was the woman who proposed.
While the divide between men and women has all but disappeared, it seems that we are still very set in our ways when it comes to our perception of marriage and just who should be popping the question to whom.
So, perhaps there is a marketing opportunity here. Forevermark attempted to increase diamond demand ahead of Christmas with its male-centric “Seize the Day” advertising campaign, encouraging men to purchase diamond jewelry for the women in their life. Maybe what is needed is another industry slogan – but aimed at women – to make that emotional or gender leap more palatable.
The American Gem Society’s (AGS) recently announced advertising campaign; “Buy It With Confidence” targeting male consumers, and “Love What You See. And What You Can’t” ads targeting female consumers could provide just that marketing opportunity. The campaign also encompasses the “Find a Jeweler” search feature on its website, with which the AGS wants to promote consumer confidence and direct consumers to ethically responsible jewelers. A print and digital marketing campaign at the start of the year to cover key jewelry shopping occasions; Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and bridal season will be rolled out in publications such as GQ, Glamour, Vogue and The Knot. Hopefully results will be positive, and show that it pays to advertise diamonds and jewelry to both women…and men.
That’s what advertising is supposed to do, help create a culture that will generate sales (while potentially altering retail behavior if we take a more Orwellian view). If 70 years ago a De Beers tagline helped change our perception of love, engagement and romance, perhaps we can do the same thing now – and show that there is really no reason a woman cannot propose to the man she loves.