There was a time when David Yurman jewelry conjured up ad images of cable bracelets sitting beside artichokes and autumn leaves. But today the brand relies on moody, black-and-white stills of top models wearing a variety of collection pieces.
So how did the company transition from imagery that mixes bracelets with vegetables and leaves to some of the most progressive ad campaigns in the jewelry industry?
“It’s a romantic story, actually,” said David Lipman, chairman and creative director of Lipman Advertising, who took over the Yurman account in 2000 and has been evolving the brand ever since. “I met the Yurmans in 1998 and we flirted for about a year-and-a-half.”
Citing a day spent on the beach in East Hampton, N.Y., with David and Sybil Yurman, Lipman said, “She was wearing her jewelry in a very casual way. The whole campaign came out of that one day. What I wanted to capture was that casual elegance and authentic glamour from an American point of view. Then I spent the next year perfecting that idea and how it translated in all of the visual and spoken communications of the brand.”
Some of the decisions were clear from the start.
“To be able to photograph that easiness, there was only one photographer, Peter Lindbergh,” Lipman said of the first campaign, which featured model Amber Valletta and broke in May 2001.
“We used Amber because of her spirit of Americana, her sophistication, her life, her marriage, her motherhood,” he added. “We put about 20 people around her that first year, but she was the focus.”
In the years since, they have kept Valletta as the primary face of the brand, but have added other models — and some celebrities — for variety.
“We’ve layered on other personalities,” Lipman explained. “One season, it was Naomi Campbell. Another, it was Kate Moss. We’ve used Michael Pitt from the film ‘The Dreamers,’ and [the actor] Ed Burns. The latest is Daria [Werbowy].”
Marc Gobé, chairman, chief executive officer and executive creative director of the brand imaging company desgrippes gobé, said of the Werbowy images: “With the more recent campaigns, Yurman has been trading up. It’s more glamorous, more fashion. The attitude of the campaign has changed quite a bit.
“I think what’s interesting about the Yurman advertising is their decision to start using black-and-white photography,” Gobé added. For a jewelry brand. They were one of the first to do that. Instead of just showing the jewelry, they put it in context, with a model that communicated a certain lifestyle.”
Of his efforts to alter the company’s imagery, Lipman said: “Before I did anything, I looked at two avenues of the jewelry category, brands of heritage and jewelry designers. Yurman was king of the designer brands…and the brands of heritage — no one had modernized that marketing yet.”
Gobé agreed: “The category has not caught up. If you put all the jewelry ads on the wall, which I happen to have done [recently], they all look the same. And then you have these guys [David Yurman], standing out, because they have a really unique, romantic attitude that communicates something beyond the product. They’re moving from a jewelry brand with style to a fashion brand with glamour. And that seems like a good move to make.”