Platinum Guild International (PGI) is a worldwide marketing organization to promote the use of platinum for jewellery. Among Indians however, nothing matches the lustre and appeal of gold for consumers or the trade. The net result was an extremely marginal share of the jewellery market, despite several years of trying.
Large spends on advertising, merchandising and merchandise, supporting jewellers and manufacturers through coop activities – nothing had worked. Lack of consumer offtake and outright rejection (many prospects said, “Platinum doesn’t even look as good as silver yet costs more than gold.”) had led to a critical situation, with jewellers asking PGI to solve the problem and simultaneously threatening to stop stocking Platinum jewellery altogether.
The situation had got so bad that PGI’s international leaders were questioning whether it was worth investing in India, despite its being one of the world’s largest jewellery market.
Diwali 2006 was, in some sense, PGI’s last chance. A last ditch attempt to overcome consumer apathy and jeweller dissatisfaction. (Diwali is the most significant festival in India, celebrated all over the country – somewhat like Christmas in the West – and a major occasion for buying new clothes and jewellery).
Another layer to the challenge was that until now PGI had been, in a sense, ‘preaching to the converted’ – the English speaking, affluent urban woman. The real buyer of jewellery in India – specially in terms of value – was the traditional woman who was more rooted in Indian culture and mores.
As an added challenge, PGI had very strict guidelines on what could be communicated in advertising and about its look and feel – all of which were right. For the wrong woman!
Preceding Diwali by a day is Dhanteras, a festival dedicated to the Goddess of Wealth, the highlight of which is the purchase of metal. If we could get consumers to see Platinum as a metal and not as jewellery, we could make it acceptable… and go a long way in helping PGI achieve its objectives.
Dhanteras is a deeply religious festival. So we decided to use astrology (in which Indians have a deep belief) to connect platinum and good-fortune. We approached the leading astrologers in the country and requested them to figure out – through study of the scriptures – whether platinum could indeed be auspicious at this time. They did.
We communicated these discoveries with sincerity and simplicity, through advertising, merchandising and appropriate pieces of platinum jewellery. And to ensure that there was no direct link to PGI, we created an organisation called Dhanteras.org, which became a ‘neutral’ sponsor of this message.
For most of India, we used a highly respected astrologer, Mr. Bejan Daruwala, as the spokesperson; in South India however, every astrologer was associated with a specific TV channel, which ensured that rival channels would not carry the commercial. Our television commercials had to overcome this while conveying the same message.
Television was supported with newspaper advertising, outdoor, merchandising at stores and special activities at popular gathering places for the traditional woman, e.g. temples. The ruling colour for all print work was red – which Indians regard as auspicious and festive.
Dr. S.K. Jain is Karnataka’s most respected astrologer and is frequently consulted by political leaders.
Bejan Daruwala, featured here is the most respected astrologer outside the South of India.
Dr. Kaliyur Narayan, is a highly regarded astrologer from Tamil Nadu with a strong following across the South.
PGI and partner jewellers couldn’t keep up with demand! There was a complete sell-out of platinum at jewellers. One managed to sell 3 years’ worth of stock in a single day! More stock would have made a difference to sales, of course. But even more heartening was a massive jump in customer base – we drew many people who had never considered platinum before. And after this platinum was entrenched in people’s hearts and minds… ready for further efforts by PGI.