Smyth Jewelers rolled out the "Rules of Engagement."

Millennials present a paradoxical challenge for jewelers.

On one hand, they make a big, multimedia production out of getting engaged, thanks to an emphasis on creativity and individuality combined with the easy availability of video and a ready-made audience on social media. “Kids are raising the bar on proposals,” says Tom Smyth, president of Smyth Jewelers in Baltimore.

On the other hand, they aren’t as enamored of traditional rituals as their predecessors were and they’d rather spend their hard-earned dollars on experiences than on material things, says Howe Burch, co-president of TB&C, the agency representing Smyth.

So TB&C and Smyth are approaching that challenge with a bridal campaign called “Rules of Engagement,” designed to make young bridal shoppers smile and identify with Smyth, which should get them thinking about THE RING itself. These rules focus on the experience of getting engaged.

Some examples:

Rule No. 9: Get down on one knee – because two is begging.
Rule No. 32: Marriage proposals should never include emoji.
Rule No. 35: It’s not official until it’s Facebook official.
Rule No. 47: Rings hidden in champagne flutes are a choking hazard.

Each “rule” can have its own ad campaign, and the campaign itself can become an interactive viral phenomenon, too, inviting millennials to come up with their own rules. Smyth launched six videos to start but has the potential to create mini-campaigns around each of 50 rules.

Social components include Facebook video ads as well as paid and organic Pinterest placements. “Millennials are elusive. It’s not as easy as running a television commercial and hoping to find them,” Burch says.

Instead, the campaign will go to them, with rules of engagement coasters placed in the venues they frequent. Select bars throughout downtown Baltimore, Ellicott City and Annapolis will also carry coasters with a blank space that invites patrons to write-in new rules, then snap and upload a photo to social media using hashtag #SmythRules for consideration to become an official rule.

In addition, Smyth will sponsor popular local events and programs including social sports leagues and a concert series at Canton Waterfront Park. The rules will also appear on outdoor advertisements, in-store signage and on the radio.

“It’s a fun way to engage with the brand in a tongue-in-cheek clever way that hopefully they will like, and they will talk about and at the end of the day, they come in and buy an engagement ring,” Burch says. We’re big believers that advertising in whatever form it takes should be a surrogate salesman for the brand and the company.”

Tom Smyth has long had an interest in creative forms of marketing and advertising. His goal has been to be warm, friendly, and even clever.

Billboards in particular have been a successful medium for Smyth.

Once the company used a mannequin to create the illusion of a person spray-painting the words “Will You Marry Me” on a billboard. A contest winner was chosen to personalize that billboard message.

The focus continues to be on bridal, because bridal still makes sense.

“It’s the best way to get the youngsters into your store,” Smyth says. “If you come into our store once, we’ll probably keep you as a customer. Bridal is frequently the first time a guy has any reason to buy my products.”

And when their customers do capture their proposals on video, Smyth will add to the experience by cleaning it up and putting it online for them, along with their wedding information and wish lists.

This article is an online extra for INSTORE.