Thursday, November 27, 2008

Too Precious to Wear -- coral protection PR campaign

On January 23, 2008 communications-based non-profit, SeaWeb, launched its Too Precious to Wear program in NYC, alongside celebrities like Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and representatives from the fashion and design communities.

The program aims to educate companies and consumers about coral, so that people will realize that coral is too precious to be converted into jewelry, home goods, or art.

From CDNN:

SeaWeb had noticed in the past couple of years that coral – real, faux and artistic interpretations – was all over the fashion runways and home-decorating magazines, explains Julia Robertson, program manager for Too Precious to Wear.

Around the same time, though, global warming, for which coral is considered a key indicator, had become a buzz topic, so marine-science groups saw an opportunity to raise public awareness, she says.

"We wanted to tap into the recognition of coral in fashion, design, jewelry and home d├ęcor. It's easier to talk to people when they know what you're talking about," Robertson says.

The program includes recruiting influential fashion leaders and designers to serve as spokespersons, as well as promoting products made with coral alternatives. Too Precious to Wear also advocates for the passage of a strong U.S. Coral Reef Conservation Act, and achieving protection for red coral under CITIES.

Too Precious to Wear is supported by The Tiffany & Co. Foundation and Pottery Barn, as well as fashion industry leaders Lela Rose, Chantecaille, Vena Cava, and Michael Aram.

From the Associated Press story:

Sylvie Chantecaille says her beauty company got involved about 18 months ago, largely because of her interest in the ocean.

"My whole family snorkels, dives. I grew up in the south of France diving and I have seen a change in the ocean over the years," she explains. "When you spend so much time under the water, you realize how amazing it is. I wanted to do something to protect it."

So Chantecaille developed Protect the Paradise compacts - one with eye shadow, another with powder - embossed with miniature ocean scenes to raise money for marine research and conservation. The project put Chantecaille in touch with other coral fans, including [scientist and college professor] Andrew Baker, who taught her to appreciate their beauty from afar.

"I love the look of coral. They're so beautiful," Chantecaille says. "I used to be completely in love with coral jewelry, so I totally understand the appeal."

Tiffany stopped selling coral jewelry in 2003 and instead uses precious stones to replicate the exotic color and shapes found in the sea. The company brought the bulk of manufacturing in house, allowing it to examine sourcing, explains Linda Buckley, Tiffany vice president of public relations. While coral was not a huge part of the assortment, it set off some bells.

"Tiffany is closely associated with the natural world — it's where we get our inspiration and materials," Buckley says.

This story was picked up by several media outlets, including MSNBC,, and

For more information about the program, see this press release.

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