November 23, 2004
DTC Holiday Commercial Debuts
The Diamond Trading Co. introduced its new holiday commercial "Steps" on Nov. 22 in New York City. The emotion-filled commercial, starring what its director called "ordinary people," features a couple in London's Trafalgar Square who are celebrating their anniversary. After the husband tells the wife he'd marry her all over again, she notices with great surprise that her parents and her best friend, along with other friends, are sitting around them on the steps. The husband then kneels and asks his wife to marry him again, producing a three-stone ring, provided to the DTC by Lazare Kaplan International. The crowd, along with the couple's friends and family, erupts in applause as the two embrace.
After the screening, Annette Insdorf, director of undergraduate film studies at Columbia University, conducted a question and answer session with the director of the commercial, Stephen Daldry. The director of such hit movies as "Billy Elliott" and "The Hours," Daldry said the making of "Steps" appealed to him because the script was "sweet." When Insdorf asked him how he chooses his film projects, including such commercial efforts, Daldry said "I'm drawn to things that make me cry, that are emotional." Daldry, who said his young daughter calls the film "the clapping movie," acknowledged that for him, human relationships are key to the stories he tells. "The two actors in 'Steps' had natural chemistry and I knew the audience would connect with them as ordinary people," said Daldry. "I found the story interesting also because you find yourself asking 'does she know, doesn't she know, what's going to happen?'"
The commercial, which will air in 30 and 60 second spots throughout the holiday season, is actually about 90 seconds in length in its entirety. Daldry said that as a director, he hated to lose any of it, but what is cut from 90 to 60 seconds are just a few behavioral moments. "At 30 seconds, however, you do lose a lot."
The short film took two days to shoot and about two weeks to finish, said Daldry, who credited the careful preparation of the script by the DTC and its agency, J. Walter Thompson, with a smooth shoot. The atmosphere of London around the couple captures a typical cloudy day with muted colors, similar to DTC's Venice-based commercial from last year.
"Steps" joins a growing trend among marketers to use famous directors to tell "stories" with slightly longer commercials that engage viewers and involve them emotionally in the products featured. A recent commercial for Chanel No 5, directed by Baz Luhrman and starring Nicole Kidman, is another example of the trend.
by Peggy Jo Donahue