De Beers vs Bushmen: who will win the bling PR war?

Bdd07220_1Diamonds - a staple of Hollywood award season attire - are having a rough time lately.

De Beers recently mounted a massive PR campaign to educate consumers about how good diamonds are for Africa and the efforts to control and/or eradicate the sale of "conflict" or "blood" diamonds.

Now the international diamond cartel has hired some hot new corporate communications guns, including one exec head-hunted from a global pharmaceutical company called AstraZeneca.

Judging from that company's recent problems, I'd say De Beers got themselves an expert corporate spinner to help them fight the negative publicity expected from Warner Bros's "Blood Diamond" (Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou and Jennifer Connelly) that focuses on the link between diamonds and bloody civil wars in Africa.

But someone else has joined the fray.

Last week the Kalahari Bushmen of Botswana took out an unprecedented large ad in Variety, asking for help from DiCaprio. In the ad, Bushman Roy Sesana wrote: "Friends have told us that you are in a film, "Blood Diamond," which shows how badly diamonds can hurt. We know this. When we were chased off our land, officials told us it was because of the diamond finds. Please help us, Sir. We know you are a famous and respected man, and that if you speak up for us many people will listen. We just want to go home, and hunt and gather and live in peace like we have always done."

And on behalf of the Bushmen, Survival International has asked Linda Evangelista to step down as the new face of De Beers. Don't laugh. SI already has Colin Firth and Julie Christie on the Bushmen's side. Christie has said, 'Diamonds as the cause of misery and suffering are not a thing of the past. The Bushman evictions in Botswana are a clear demonstration that local people are still suffering because of these stones." And SI already convinced supermodel Iman to step down as the face of De Beers a few years ago.

That said, Iman is married to David Bowie and is very wealthy in her own right. Good luck getting Linda to turn down that big fat spokesmodel contract. The early '90s era supermodel, who once bragged that she didn't "wake up for less than $10 grand a day," now has a.. how shall I put this, slightly less stellar modeling career. 

Gosh, this Hollywood diamond war is getting so exciting. Will the Bushmen of Kalahari make a trip to Hollywood? Can the displaced tribe and their celebrity supporters  persuade A-list actresses to boycott the bling and not wear dazzling diamonds to awards shows?

Hey, these dudes have already taken out an ad in Variety. I'd say anything is possible.

Photo Credit: Leo and Djimon star in "Blood Diamond," the movie about conflict diamonds financing bloody civil wars that has De Beers execs shaking in their designer boots.
Jaap Buitendijk/Warner Bros. Pictures.