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May 6, 2008 / beidson

Marketing Monogamy: Is It Sexy Enough to Sell?

Apparently, monogamy is sexy.  At least that’s what Hearts On Fire is banking on.  Their newest marketing campaign is targeting couples who value commitment and fidelity, using passion and intensity to make the connection between diamonds and relationships.  Will it work?  They seem to think so.  An article by the National Jeweler Network reports:

The ‘(MONOGAMY)100’ campaign will resonate with passionate, quality-driven consumers who want to express their most intense relationship with a Hearts On Fire diamond,” HOF Vice President of Marketing Caryl Capeci said in a statement. “As the only diamond in the world cut and polished at 100 times magnification—10 times the industry standard—a Hearts On Fire diamond perfectly embodies the intense emotion of a deeply committed relationship.”

But the “intense emotion of a deeply committed relationship” isn’t the only appeal this new campaign has.  The ads picture a man and woman involved in a sensuous, provocative embrace, kissing each other with equally as much intensity as you might suppose their commitment involves.  They are passion-driven, to be sure, but not in a traditional sense of the word.  This erotic sort of monogamy is apparently what is expected to appeal to so many would-be diamond buyers.  In fact, it seems that 9 out of 10 people are “attracted” to such monogamy.  The report goes on:

In a survey of 1,000 men and women that HOF conducted as part of the campaign, 87 percent of participants indicated that they aspire to be in a monogamous relationship, and 91 percent of men and women said that monogamy is sexy.

Of course, to what extent the monogamous relationship extends, we can only guess.  Marriage?  Perhaps, but most importantly, as far as HOF is concerned, it is at least two people, who, for however long, have decided to stick together.  This kind of commitment is apparently sexy, and anything sexy sells, right?

But we might question the basis for such an ad campaign.  What exactly is it about monogamy that is so sexy?  And is monogamy sexy so long as it is two committed individuals, without reference to any biblical sense of monogamy?  We need only appeal to the “sex appeal” of monogamy to expose the problems with this campaign. 

First of all, it is ironic that an ad intended to appeal to committed partners on the basis of monogamous love would at the same time feature sensuous pictures which provoke the lust in our hearts.  Say what you will, but this type of sensuality, even if only R-rated, and even if targeted toward mature adults, is still inappropriate.  Sure, we might be “old enough” to handle such images, but then again, since when did sexy pictures become appropriate, even for adults?  The last thing that this sort of picture brings to mind is a lifetime of committment, ending in wrinkled skin and loss of sexual appetite and performance.

And second, you can’t sell monogamy, no matter how “sexy” people may think it is.  The truth is, whatever it is that people think is so “sexy” about monogamy probably has nothing to do with a lifetime of committment at all.  It probably has more to do with sex, and maybe even diamonds.  Monogamy doesn’t sell because commitment doesn’t sell.  That’s how advertising works.  Advertising, by definition, is the promotion of a thing insofar as it is better than what you currently have or don’t have.  In this case, diamonds are supposed to signify the sexiness of monogamy, which is better than the boring relationship you are currently in.  It’s a far stretch, but one that jewelers are willing to make in order to sell diamonds.  But perhpas that is all they are selling, since monogamy was created by God, not by advertisers, and “sexy” monogamy, whatever it is, is most certainly not intended for public display, but to be left in the bedroom, enjoyed in privacy by a husband and wife who have committed themselves to one another for life.

Is monogamy sexy?  I think so, but not in the same sense that HOF understands “sexy.”  Is monogamy marketable?  Well, only insofar as it is sexy, and herein lies the problem.  Perhaps the reason monogamy has become marketable is because it has lost its traditional place in our culture at large, so much so that it is only appealing to people anymore insofar as it arouses them.  But that is not the essence of monogamy.  Biblical monogamy stems from the faithfulness of God in Jesus Christ, who has never failed to keep a promise and who will not leave or forsake those with whom he has joined himself.  His appeal to monogamy is a bloody cross, not an erotic picture.  He does not extend to us a marketing campaign for a “sexy” marriage, but a gospel of hope and eternal salvation.

Is monogamy sexy enough to sell?  Maybe.  But perhaps what appeals to people most is the covenant faithfulness of a crucified Husband-King who gave up his life in order to capture our hearts, and even more, to save us from the wrath of a just and holy God.  It is this kind of gospel-fidelity which broken, unfaithful sinners desire, even more than diamonds, and even more than sex.  But will people turn to Jesus Christ for the faithfulness they long for, or will they continue to “buy” monogamy because of its sex appeal?  We must boast in the hope of the cross; not in the hope that people will find it sexy, but in the hope that people will be attracted to the monogamy they so desperately desire.  This is surely more “marketable” than diamonds, even without all the sex.

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