De Beers transcends glitz

Gareth Penny, De Beers CEO, voices a devotion to the African economy and a more transparent communications strategy.

Gareth Penny, De Beers CEO, voices a devotion to the African economy and a more transparent communications strategy.


In an attempt to “polish its image” after a decrease in sales, legal battles regarding monopolistic practices, and negative industry publicity about conflict diamonds, the Wall Street Journal reports that the company has enacted a new business model in which Penny “casts himself as an unofficial ambassador for Africa,” boasting a black-empowerment deal with a black investment vehicle and 50-50 partnerships with African regions.


The story continues that over the years, the company has worked with governments and human rights groups to fund the Kimberley Process which enables people to trace “rough diamonds.” 


Also now traceable, according to the Journal, is the reputedly secretive business strategy. Asked why De Beers has become more actively public about its plans, Penny responded, “We want people to know that with any diamond they buy, that product is not only deeply meaningful to them but, in terms of the contribution that it is making, to Africa. If we can tell our story across the world, it is positive for us, and the industry, and for Africa.”


The National Jeweler Network reports that De Beers had received backlash from competitors when it first publicized its plan to open 150 stores within ten years and has since been quiet about its strategy. So in response to Penny's announcement for expansion, the story reports, “This is a telling detail from the diamond industry giant, which previously has been tight-lipped about its retail ambitions.”


According to PRWeek UK, Exposure was briefed in February to work on global consumer PR on a number of undisclosed projects for De Beers. 


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