By Michelle Graff
Lighthouse Point, Fla.--Call it puppy love meets an extremely clever marketing idea.

Jack-o-Lantern is just one of the adorable visitors that dropped by J.R. Dunn Jewelers last week after the retailer finalized the details of “Diamond in the Ruff,” a marketing program designed to aid the Humane Society of Broward County.For the next 52 weeks, J.R. Dunn Jewelers in Lighthouse Point is giving the Humane Society of Broward County a boost by a sponsoring pet adoptions and sharing a photo of one animal in need of a good home on its Facebook page every week.

Cleverly called “Diamond in the Ruff,” store Vice President and owner Sean Dunn said the idea grew out of a conversation he had about a month ago with his operations manager, Tyrone Jennings, about innovative ideas for cause marketing.

Plenty of stores have events where a certain percentage of the proceeds go to a certain charity, but, as Dunn observed, “Sometimes that’s not met with great enthusiasm because (people) look at it and (say), you’re still profiting.”

With Diamond in the Ruff, people understand exactly where the money is going.

Dunn Jewelers will pay for the adoption of 52 animals--most likely dogs and cats, with perhaps the occasional ferret or rabbit in the mix--from the Broward County Humane Society. Adoption fees there range from less than $100 to about $200 per animal.

It supports a charitable cause almost anyone can get behind, animal welfare, while at the same time softening the image of what a fine jewelry store is in the public’s eye.

“It breaks down (the idea) that jewelry stores are stuffy. It’s fun,” Dunn said.

“It’s tough trying to be innovative and different. There’s so many great ideas out there. It’s hard to break through the clutter.”

The 52 adoptable animals will be featured on the J.R. Dunn Facebook page once a week for the next year.

Dunn said the Humane Society employees will select the animal that will be featured each week, picking ones for which it is more difficult to find homes.

Puppies and kittens get snatched up quickly while older animals sometimes are more difficult to place. Case in point, Dunn Jewelers’ first featured creature is a 5-year-old male American Staffordshire terrier named Duke.

Dunn said they posted his photo on their Facebook page Monday and plan to experiment with targeted Facebook posts, where they can select which of their Facebook fans see the posts based on the pages they like and their interests.

In addition, Dunn Jewelers is paying out of pocket to run radio advertisements promoting Diamond in the Ruff and, in turn, the Humane Society.

James Robert (J.R.) Dunn, Sean’s father, the store’s founder and a lifelong dog lover, stars in these spots.

“My mother and I used to raise boxers in Boston,” he says in one version of the commercial. “Bootsie was my favorite. We named him that because of his white paws. Gosh I loved that dog … He was my best friend.”

While the retailer is just getting started with the Ruff idea, Dunn already is thinking ahead about other ways in which they may be able to leverage the program to bring more attention to both the store and the Humane Society’s mission.

One idea he has is to do an in-store event with animals that are up for adoption.

He said the Humane Society brought by two puppies and a kitten last week after the partnership for Diamond in the Ruff was finalized. 

His employees loved it, and, he doesn’t doubt, so would customers.

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