H Samuel appoints Maher Bird to build mass-market sales

H Samuel, the high-street jewellry chain, has appointed Maher Bird Associates to handle its above-the-line advertising account.

The Signet-owned retailer, which has 425 UK outlets, wants to boost its profile among a mass-market audience, while positioning it with a more luxury image than it has enjoyed in the past.

The campaign will begin with an estimated £1 million test budget, which will back ads that will run over the Christmas period. However, the company has set aside a further £6 million, should the test prove effective.

The pitch against Walsh Trott Chick Smith and Burkitt DDB, was overseen by the Haystack Group. RPM3, which previously held the account, did not re-pitch. John Ayling & Associates will continue to handle all media.

The H Samuel relaunch is said to involve both TV executions and radio spots. The company is looking to air a branding campaign, moving away from previous product- and price-led advertising.

Last month Signet announced that it was intending to shift the emphasis in its H Samuel stores away from giftware and into diamond jewellry. In the US, Signet's "Leo diamond has helped boost the group's profits by 33.5 per cent to £23.9 million in the year to May 2002.

The move comes as De Beers and LVMH plan to launch a major retail joint venture. DDB's Paris agency, Louis XIV, was hired to create advertising for the launch of the venture later this year.