Jewelers Ride Surf City’s TV Wave

LOS ANGELES It’s practically impossible in Southern California to not know of Skip and Steve Robbins, the engagement ring-selling brothers ubiquitous in regional radio ads for nearly a decade. But in an effort to introduce its stores to a new audience, Robbins Bros. this afternoon launches its first television campaign, created by independent Surf City Advertising.

“TV talk has been on the table for a while, and it was finally the right time,” said Chris Epting, president and creative director of the Huntington Beach, Calif., agency. Having crafted Robbins Bros. radio and in-store campaigns for the past three years, Epting said it was a challenge to translate Skip and Steve into TV stars. “They figure pretty prominently in the commercials,” he said, “but the couple are the [spots’] primary focus.”

The 13-week campaign, produced by G-Force, Newport Beach, Calif., consists of two 30-second spots, one set on the beach and another in a romantically lit living room. Both begin with a nervous young man’s marriage proposal to an attractive woman. Her exhilaration, however, turns to horror upon seeing his choice of ring. Suddenly, Skip and Steve arrive to guide the flustered fellow through their “wonderland of over 3,000 rings in every style and price range.”

The spots have more than one objective, explained Diane Ferraro, director of marketing for the Glendale, Calif.-based jewelry chain. “We wanted to show that all women have influence over their fiance’s selections,” she said, “and reinforce our message by showing customers what ‘world’s biggest’ really means.”

Third-generation jewelers, the Robbins brothers own and operate seven freestanding stores in Southern California. Each location offers “full-service romance benefits,” as well as guy-friendly extras such as a cappuccino lounge and TVs tuned to sports. According to Ferraro, the company is currently considering expanding outside the state.

A “broad cable buy” in the Los Angeles and San Diego markets includes placement on TBS, VH1, Fox, Discovery and the WB, said Ferraro. In addition, Robbins Bros. will sponsor the Learning Channel program A Wedding Story.

Wingman, an independent in Marina del Rey, Calif., is handling media.

Neither Robbins Bros. nor Surf City would reveal details about the campaign media budget. According to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, the 2003 ad spend was $1 million.

Epting said that the client is definitely “putting money behind” the spots. “It’s a test,” he said. “They’re savvy enough to do it right.”