Research Proposal

Successful Marketing During High Stress Times


To identify brands that successfully pivoted their marketing (during/after Great Recession) to inform the client's creative brief.

Early Findings


  • In June 2009, JC Penney announced their campaign “Beware of the Doghouse” had won the 2009 World Retail Award for Best Digital Retail Advertising Campaign. The campaign was created by Saatchi & Saatchi New York (collaborating with Razorfish), and included its own site ( It launched with a funny video about men failing miserably at gift-giving, then offered viewers a chance to “send an email warning or upload their loved ones into the ‘doghouse.’”
  • The campaign utilized then-innovative (non-traditional-at-the-time) marketing elements, like Facebook Connect, where site viewers could add their Facebook friends into the doghouse or send them warnings. The campaign featured a buy-out option for those in the doghouse, with doghousers procuring their release by “purchasing the diamond jewelry gift selected on the site” by the person who put them into the doghouse in the first place (“or at their mercy with the click of a button”).

HIGH VALUE: Tiffany & Co

  • In the 2008 holiday season, one luxury brand that scored high points with consumers for their campaign was Tiffany & Co. Their print campaign had the tag line “Dreams Can Still Come True,” and “combine[d] an aspirational product, reasonable entry price, great photography, and the Tiffany Blue.” The text in the ads read: “For less than you imagined, the best there is,” and despite the softening of the diamond market, the ad rang true with consumers and experts alike.

TONE DEAF: De Beers Diamonds

  • One brand that got it wrong during holiday seasons during the Great Recession was international diamond company De Beers. For the 2008 holiday season, the brand doubled its US marketing budget focusing on their belief that customers would be searching for “gifts with enduring value.” This was short-sighted of the brand since so many Americans were more concerned with losing their homes and livelihoods than with using their remaining monies toward purchasing expensive gifts.
  • Notably, the diamond market softened during 2008 and 2009 (and possibly beyond), and the De Beers Group’s profits declined in the watches and jewelry categories by 16% (in 2008). A tiny percentage (1%) of those surveyed by National Jeweler believed the company’s marketing efforts helped their sales.
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