For years, Steven Singer Jewelers, the celebrity gem dealer of the Philadelphia area, is a name that resonates throughout the region. You can’t turn on WMMR or drive down the highway without hearing or seeing that famous tagline: “I HATE STEVEN SINGER.”
The award-winning phrase has been ingrained in the minds of locals since 2002. The origins of the ad campaign comes from local voice actor Dennis Steele, who has worked on commercials for Wawa and the Pennsylvania Lottery. Legend goes that Steele purchased a ring from Singer's shop for his wife of 23 years. She loved it so much that nine months later the couple had a baby. Steele later returned to the Jewelers Row storefront to tell Singer he hated him for giving him sleepless nights, associated with giving his wife the ring and having the baby. But the jeweler took that sarcastic compliment and turned dirt into gold by making it the foundation of his new reverse-psychology ad campaign.
But it’s not Singer’s classic tagline that has me in awe this Valentine’s Day season, it’s the latest ad campaign that proves he isn’t shy about showing some skin. “They’re real. They’re so spectacular. They start as $59.” – that slogan is written across the chest of a busty, faceless blonde woman advertising Singer’s signature 24kt gold-dipped roses, one of their biggest sellers this time of year.
“We’re grabbing the attention of a guy who normally wouldn’t stop and look at something that is shiny or sparkly,” said Singer’s marketing director, LeeAnn Jacobs. “Women might notice a beautiful dipped rose, but when was the last time a guy stopped and said, ‘oh that flower’s pretty’?” As it turns out the whole ad isn’t just some sexy distraction to get you into the store, it’s actually a clever homage to a famous 1993 Seinfield episode in which Jerry is convinced that his new girlfriend Sidra, played by Terry Hatcher, has fake breasts. In the last scene, before Hatcher storms out the door enraged that Jerry suspected her chest was fake, she declares, “They’re real, and they’re spectacular!”
It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that the ad is offensive to women, but in an age where society is more accepting than ever of feminism, and the right to be a sexual being, isn’t it the company’s privilege to be provocative and funny? “Our store is run by women, I’m a woman, and the ad was designed by a woman. We’re definitely not sexist – we love women,” declares Jacobs. Singer’s long history of salacious advertising has gained him a dedicated local and national following. Back in 2010, Howard Stern called up the jeweler for the Tiger Woods Mistress Beauty Pageant. Three of Woods’ mistresses battled it out to win a $100,000 cash prize and a $75,000 custom ring by Steven Singer Jewelers – a half-carat diamond ring with a 3- black diamond in the center. In the end, mistress Jamie Jungers took home the coveted prize. Everyone from TMZ to the Huffington Post caught wind of the spectacle.
When you go to Singer's shop, it's not like the others. The atmosphere is less stuffy and more friendly. "We’ll serve you a beer or a cold soda and kick back with you," says LeAnn. "We like it to be a party when you come in and buy an engagement ring. It’s a big deal! We like to celebrate it with you."
While franchise companies like Kay Jewelers – “Every Kiss Begins with Kay.” – and Jared – “He went to Jared!” – go for more heart-melting moments in their advertising, Singer offers some flash and shock in the way they do business, which to me is very refreshing. The company is completely aware of the eyebrow-raising attention they grab and it’s worked for them thus far. “Our customers get our humor, our brand, and our advertising and those are the customers we want," said LeeAnn. "If you try to be important to everyone, you’re important to no one.”