Last Tuesday's L.A. Times contained a lavish article detailing the bizarre public relations war that international diamond trader De Beers has launched on the upcoming Edward Zwick film Blood Diamond. The film, starring Leo DiCaprio and Jennifer Connelly, deals with the issue of African conflict diamonds, which are mined in war zones and used to fund illicit trade and guerilla wars. It also contains a villainous, Eurotrashy-sounding diamond cartel called Van Der Kaap that is shown clandestinely buying diamonds from rebel armies. De Beers is especially unhappy about that part, probably. According to the article, after director Zwick snubbed De Beers' request to add a disclaimer to the opening of the film stating that it was all fiction, the company hired Sitrick and Co., a top-dollar Hollywood PR firm that specializes in scandal management.

"Can you imagine [the film's] impact on the Christmas-buying audience in America if the message is not carried through?" De Beers head Jonathan Oppenheimer is quoted as saying to a recent audience of diamond retailers, showing that his real concern is for all of those armless children. The most intelligent point made in the Times article is that De Beers is nuts for allowing themselves to be linked with the film in the first place. Now all of the hoi polloi who decide to become self-righteous and not buy that ostrich egg-sized diamond for their mistress this Christmas will know exactly which firm to boycott.

The article also hints at the plans afoot for the film's publicity campaign, including having Amnesty International host screenings at college campuses around the country.

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