Engagement: Time to Ring Some Changes
In 1938, with the price of diamonds slashed by the Great Depression, De Beers launched a marketing campaign to establish the custom of diamond engagement rings. There was no prior tradition of this; engagement rings date back to Roman times and beyond, but only 10% of 1930s engagement rings held a diamond. The De Beers promotion was so successful that 50 years later 80% of brides-to-be wore a diamond ring; it became the convention.
One has to admire the vision of De Beers; and the success of their comprehensive business strategy. By contrast, for employee engagement there is no object or custom (created by marketers or otherwise) that demonstrates a stage of commitment. Perhaps the very idea of being committed to an employer would benefit from a new image. The phrase “employee engagement” can conjure up images of unread 130 question surveys; lacklustre fist bumps in the company conference room; or arch Dilbert cartoons featuring the Catbert, the evil HR Director. So what could be learnt from De Beers’ approach to a different state of engagement? What expertise would we take into our employee engagement approach from the team who redefined the way we look at – and feel about – a diamond ring?
Copywriter Frances Gerety created the line “A diamond is forever” for De Beers in the 1940s (in 1999 Advertising Age magazine proclaimed it their slogan of the century). How many organisations state their purpose in such a compelling and memorable way? If an employee’s engagement to an organisation is to be achieved and sustained, then surely the statement of organisational purpose has to be captivating. Contemporary company purpose statements include:
Helping people achieve their ambitions – in the right way. 
The happiness of all members, through their worthwhile and satisfying employment in a successful business.
To inspire and nurture the human spirit.
We aim to provide people the world over with products that are good for them and good for others.
Building a better future for all through football.