The ad Justice never pitched

Brian Brown, ReporterAs part of the June 24 print edition, I was able to do a story I’ve been waiting for more than a year to write.

Shortly after the unfortunate death of iconic local jeweler Woody Justice in October 2011, I wanted to meet with the daughters – the new owners of the company – to learn how they planned to carry forward the advertising that made Justice a household name.

Having grown up in Springfield, Justice’s plain-spoken ads are as familiar to me as Andy’s Frozen Custard or cashew chicken.

I wondered how the daughters would fill that void now that the man who so embodied the Justice Jewelers brand was gone.

I was, respectfully, denied the interview a couple of times through a company representative. This year, via their advertising representative Ron Marshall, president of Red Crow Marketing, Amelia and Margie Justice agreed to meet with me. Still, it took months for both of them to be in town and available for the conversation.


On June 7, with the help of public relations professional Miles Ross, I met Justice’s daughters at the store on East Battlefield Road as they prepared for the company’s 30th anniversary celebration. Details of the interview are available in the story, but in short, I can say they were finishing the career paths they had just begun and training to take over their father’s store.

When it comes to marketing, they’re “mixing it up” these days and focusing more on online advertising. They said business did dip after their father’s death, but has stabilized. They said they’ve been blessed by a loyal customer base and want to continue to find ways to tell stories and carry on their father’s legacy.

As part of the story, I was able to get a phone interview with the “Wizard of Ads” Roy H. Williams. Williams was Justice’s right-hand ad man for 25 years and developed Justice’s radio-focused, common-man persona.

Starting in 1986, Williams said he wanted people to hear Justice’s voice, to become familiar with him, to come to trust him, and radio was the easiest way to make that happen with a $20,000 advertising budget.

And he didn’t want Justice talking to potential customers like other jewelers do, Williams said. He didn’t want Justice talking about price points, he wanted him to connect to the reason people buy jewelry.

To the point, he told the story of how he was at a conference in Europe when he told Justice, “‘You know, no man has ever woke up in the morning and said I wish I had some color, cut, clarity and carat weight.’ That’s how jewelers like to talk about diamonds, but that’s not what a man is paying for. … What he’s paying for is the reaction of the woman he loves.

“If you can cause him to imagine the look on her face, he will sell things he does not own to buy that diamond. Woody understood that,” Williams said.

Williams told me he wrote an ad for Woody, about a week ahead of our interview, as a tribute to his long-time friend and to demonstrate the emotion that Woody was so well known for conveying on the radio. I wanted to share that below. If you’re a Springfield native, I think you’ll find it easy to hear the jeweler’s voice.


“She’s always been there for you. Encouraging you. Believing in you. Every moment of every day. When you find it hard to believe in yourself, her love for you is like a rock. Solid. Dependable. Reliable. Where would you be without her? The most important thing you can do – and you should do it today – is tell her what she means to you. She deserves to hear you say it. And the second thing you need to do, if finances permit, is surprise her with a diamond. Giving a woman a diamond is a good thing to do. That diamond will be with her when you can’t be. Encouraging her. Believing in her. Every moment of every day. If she starts to doubt herself, your love will be there in that rock. Sparkling. Shining. Broadcasting to all the world, ‘this woman is loved.’ ‘This woman matters.’ ‘This woman is more precious than pure gold and the rarest of gems.’ Give it some thought. But remember, the most important thing, the first thing is to tell her. I’m Woody Justice, and I want to be your jeweler.”

RIP, Woody Justice. Best of luck to your daughters. They have a tough act to follow.


1 Response to “The ad Justice never pitched”

  1. 1 J Howard Fisk June 21, 2013 at 11:49 am

    Woody was a unique character and I say, “character”, because he was that. Most of us will be lost to public memory ten years after our passing, but not Woody. His personality was a little bit local and a little bit New York Diamond District. He made it easy to smile and easy to relax and enjoy a conversation. The twinkle in his eye let you know that he was just a bit of a scamp. I have great affection for Woody and the memories of many visits to his office. He wanted to be my friend and he was. What a guy!

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