Hillberg and Berk on international stage at Rio Olympics

Regina jeweller Hillberg and Berk has won a partnership agreement with the Canadian Olympic team. That means every Canadian athlete will receive a pair of red sparkle ball earrings.

U of S marketing prof impressed with small company's international profile

Regina jeweller has won a partnership with the Rio Olympics. (Neil Cochrane/CBC)

When Canadian athletes head to the Olympics in Rio starting on Aug. 5, we could see some patriotic bling from Regina adorning their ears.

Regina jeweller Hillberg and Berk has won a partnership agreement with the Canadian Olympic team. That means every Canadian athlete will receive a pair of their signature red sparkle ball earrings, and customers can buy the same earrings too.

"Not only will the athletes be wearing the earrings, but Canada gets to show their pride by wearing official earrings of the Canadian Olympic team," said Rachel Mielke, founder and CEO of Hillberg and Berk.

Marketing strategy

David Williams is marketing professor at the Edwards School of Business at the University of Saskatchewan. He said that this partnership is a smart move for Hillberg and Berk to bring their brand more worldwide exposure.

He said if the athletes end up wearing the earrings while competing, during interviews, or on the podium, it will bring significant exposure for the company. He said this kind of marketing works well for a company like Hillberg and Berk.

"It's a larger extension of some of their previous activities with the Oscars, Queen's broach and the Riders," said Williams.

Rachel Mielke is founder and CEO of Hillberg & Berk. (Neil Cochrane/CBC)

Williams noted that Hillberg and Berk have been very successful at getting the word out about their company in the past.

"The exposure they've got for such a small company is quite noteworthy," said Williams.

Mielke said this step is a natural progression for the company's collaborations and marketing strategy. Hillberg and Berk started by sponsoring the Saskatchewan Roughriders a couple of years ago.

"It's a little bit of a bigger stage, it's all of Canada," said Mielke.

Women empowering women

More importantly, said Willliams, this partnership could help further the image of Hillberg and Berk's mandate of "women empowering women." Part of the proceeds from the sales are to go back to Canadian female athletes to support training and travel.

"If they can pull off this authentic emotional appeal of women empowering women — which is very hard to do — it's going to fit with their brand and also the story of Rachel in forming the company," said Williams.

"Women have a much more difficult time finding sponsorship dollars, more than men do, so to us that was what was really attractive about this opportunity," said Mielke.

"We're just always trying to do something that's a little bit non-traditional to capture people's attention," said Mielke.

She said they aim "to really partner with brands that are not only recognizable, obviously, but brands that really tug on people's heart strings."

Customers can buy the red sparkle earrings at Hillberg and Berk shops. (Neil Cochrane/CBC)

With files from CBC's The Morning Edition