I've been aware of the new online jewelry retailer Delamina for all of five minutes now, and I already have a complicated, love-hate relationship with the company. When I saw this MarketWatch story about Delamina's marketing strategy -- encouraging women to buy their own damn baubles instead of waiting around for men to cough up -- I got all excited. Everything that makes me insane about the typical jewelry commercial is summed up by the Family Guy's brilliant Debeers parody: "Diamonds. She'll pretty much have to." So an ad campaign aimed at the kind of woman who watches a "He went to Jared" commercial and can barely control the dry heaves -- hi! -- was most welcome.
But then I went to the Web site, where black-and-white images of women flash on the screen, along with excuses for buying yourself the sparkly jewelry they're wearing. Some of these actually amused me: "Because the wine you opened was older than he was." "Because you didn't flip off that guy on the 101." "Because you can wear it every day" -- over a photo of a woman biting into a particularly sloppy cheeseburger. Holy crap, they're implying it's OK for women to buy our own jewelry and enjoy burgers? It's almost like there was an actual woman involved in designing this campaign!
Except the next frame is a head of lettuce, with the caption "Because you ate salad all week." Oh. Of course. And then there's "Because you like shiny things," with a picture of a woman holding a colander, since, you know, we girls pretty much live in the kitchen. Unless we're cleaning toilets, that is -- an image that goes along with "Because you got down and dirty." Hey, wait a minute, weren't we supposed to be subverting gender roles here? Isn't this the exact same premise as barfy traditional jewelry ads -- because of all the cooking, cleaning and dieting you do (mothering's in there, too, natch), you deserve something pretty! -- only here, you're the one paying for it?
And then things take a serious turn for the double-you-tee-eff. In among the '50s housewife imagery, there's a picture of a woman's arm and hair sticking out from under her bedcovers, with two empty wineglasses on the nightstand next to her. Caption: "Because it's a less risky way to celebrate your promotion." Seriously? The one woman who obviously has a job in this series of photos is also into drunken, anonymous sex? Oh, those zany career gals!
I do applaud Delamina for recognizing (at least theoretically) that women today aren't living in an episode of "Mad Men"; plenty of us would rather lay down the plastic ourselves than hope that our sex and housekeeping and patience with his affairs might eventually earn us a necklace. In the world of jewelry marketing, that's actually pretty huge. I just wish they'd considered that women who can afford precious gems probably have interests and obligations beyond salads, toilets and random hookups. I really cannot wait for the day someone makes a jewelry ad that says, "Because it's your money, and you don't need a a freakin' excuse." I'll totally celebrate by buying myself a tennis bracelet.