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Boomer & Senior Marketing: Deconstructing J.R. Dunn Jewelers

One of my favorite marketers is Michele Miller, wonderbranding.com. In a recent post she discusses the value of storytelling in marketing. Her lead was “Intensify the Believability and Persuasiveness of Your Ads with Hard-Hitting, Personal Stories.” Below Michele shares and dissects a J. R. Dunn ad campaign. Listen to the one minute spot (you can download the media file here: J.R. Dunn) and read on.

“First Mental Image (FMI)

A seven-year old boy going through one of the hardest things imaginable – witnessing the death of his father.

Boy, oh boy – what a riveting first mental image. Absolutely riveting. You just don’t hear stuff like that in advertising. This is important to note because your customer is exposed to 5,000 advertisements each day – most of them sounding similar and bouncing off his memory like an overinflated basketball. So it goes without saying that your opening line must grab your customer’s attention.

Well, heck. This ad’s FMI arrests your attention.

Frankly, it may be too captivating. But skillfully, the ad’s next line affords your mind a moment to recover, and eases you into the message.

Most importantly, the idea introduced with the FMI is one of a caregiver – someone who will be there for you through thick and thin, and right up till the end. This mental image sets up the rest of the ad beautifully, as you’ll soon learn.

The Message:

Looking for an engagement ring? J.R. Dunn has one for you, and promises no other jeweler in America can give you a better value for your money.

What is the ad really selling? What is it promising? No matter your financial situation, J.R. Dunn will sell you an engagement ring that will properly express your love. But what makes this ad truly convincing … what causes it stand out from competing ads and jolt the customer from his indifference? 


By sharing personal stories about his father and wife (a credibility investment of power and control), J.R. Dunn (business owner) adds a heaping amount of believability to the ad.

No one would now dare doubt J.R. Dunn’s sincerity when he promises to be there for you and give you a better engagement ring for your money.

Stylistic Signature:

No musical backgrounds … just J.R. Dunn reading the ad copy.

For this ad to hit emotionally hard as written, J.R. Dunn had to voice the ad himself. It just couldn’t be done any other way. Many radio commercials use musical backgrounds – most of which are too loud and distracting. This contributes nothing and reduces the recall of your ad.

The J.R. Dunn ad avoids this trap. It contains no background music, allowing the listener to fully concentrate on the message. It feels as if you are sitting across from J.R. Dunn himself, having an intimate conversation with the business owner.

Oh – and I almost forgot. Notice the ad often breaks grammar rules. This gives the ad a conversational sound, and speaks to the customer in his everyday language. Probably a good idea if you want to persuade someone to buy something, right?

Last Mental Image (LMI):

When you need the perfect engagement ring, J.R. Dunn will be there for you.

The ad culminates with a flawless LMI, which circles back to the caretaker idea introduced with the FMI.


As I’ve said before, the persuasiveness of your ad will largely be determined by its amount of relevancy and credibility. To be convincing, an ad must contain both. Well, the J.R. Dunn ad contains both relevancy and credibility. But make no mistake; credibility is the linchpin of this ad. The ad also expends every ounce of energy to deliver you single, powerful promise.

On a related note, it’s worth talking a bit more about credibility as it relates to the message and customer experience: J.R. Dunn must walk the talk. There cannot be a single drop of disconnect between what he is saying in his ad, and who he is being once you walk into his jewelry store.

In other words, he has to be willing to sell you an engagement ring – even if you have only pennies in your pocket. Otherwise, his credibility will crumble.

So always remember, if you can’t support the message you’re sending, then don’t send that particular message. Redirect your resources.”


The essence of Michele’s comments is that authenticity, vulnerability and honesty are the pillars of credibility and trust. And these values are even more important when your target markets are older. Whether using traditional or digital marketing you should remember that, in our opinion, the worst thing that can happen to a dishonest and/or poor performing company is a great ad campaign. It’s worth reiterating: walk your talk.


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