Modernista! Tries Virtual Globes for Hearts on Fire

NEW YORK Hearts on Fire, a business that’s based on purchases of $3,500 and up, is hoping that free digital gifts will help propel sales in a down economy.

The company, which markets its diamonds through about 650 retailers, has teamed with Modernista!, Boston, this holiday season for virtual snow globes, which are intended to be distributed virally.

Taking a cue from OfficeMax’s 2006 “Elf Yourself” holiday promotion, HOF will let users upload an image of themselves into a virtual snow globe and then e-mail the globe to their friends. HOF has done online promotions before and “we try to take it up a notch every year,” said Caryl Capeci, vp of marketing at HOF.

Since HOF diamonds are often used in engagement rings, Capeci said the program’s goal is to gain mind share with users who might be in the market sometime in the future. Capeci added that the brand was looking to gain a foothold in the online social media space, though as of yet, the program doesn’t have a Facebook component.

Though OfficeMax’s effort — which let consumers put their face on an online elf’s body — netted more than 30 million hits and is considered the most successful such promotion, it wasn’t the first. In 2005, New Line Cinema launched a similar effort for the film Wedding Crashers that let consumers put their mug shot over stars Owen Wilson’s and Vince Vaughn’s.