Thursday, September 2, 2010

Is it OK to Use A Celebrity Spokesperson for Your Firm?

Have You Recently Been Injured in An Accident?
Do you have what it takes to be the number one law firm in your market?   That is the question splashed across the webpages of Market Masters Legal, a Massachusetts company that can provide your law firm with a celebrity spokesperson.  In legal trade journals, the company advertises custom made ads that are touted as the most powerful in the country.  They can prepare a package for you that includes a tv campaign, yellow page ads, media buying and online lead generations.  The company focuses only on law firms.  As more lawyers crowd the marketplace, could this be the very thing to give you the edge. And to think there was a time lawyers were barred from advertising.

My first question is "does it work?"  The second is "what about my reputation?" Attorneys can be a snobby bunch.  Our law firm has a 70 year history.  If I take this fork in the road, will people start thinking of me as an ambulance chaser?  Would I only attract Jerry Springer fans who happened to catch our new ad during a segment on transgender rollerskating nuns?  Would we lose our corporate and "fancy pants" clients.  Admittedly, I have snorted in disdain at bus ads.  I have turned up my nose at over the top tv commercials.  So sue me.  (Editor's note: Don't sue me.)  A part of me believes such advertising sullies how the general public views our profession.  Do you really want a practice that relies on Captain Kirk to get you clients? Perhaps another part of me is a little envious. I have clients who are Trekkies.   Imagine having Denny Crane singing the praises of your firm to a captive tv audience.  Market Masters answers the reputation question this way.  "Aside from phenomenal reported increases in quality and volume of caseloads, this campaign is designed to make your firm the most prestigious and best known in your market. Our licensees report that they receive more respect and attention than ever before."

One of the spokesmen offered is Robert Vaughn.  A veteran of stage and screen, you may remember him
as the Man from U.N.C.L.E.   I prefer to think of Vaughn as one of the Magnificent Seven where he, perhaps fittingly, played a hired gun.  Of course,  I don't fault Vaughn for making a living.  Heck, fellow Magnificent Seven / Bullitt alumnus Steve McQueen is still selling Mustangs and Tag Heur watches.  The guy's been dead for 30 years.

So how much does it all cost? An Arkansas lawyer who counts himself as a client simply states that it is a high-quality product and priced appropriately.  So, do I want to go down this road?  Our firm has relied on word of mouth for generations.  Would I dare venture into the abyss of celebrity spokespeople?  I'd love to use Vaughn, but he has already been used in our area.  A local firm already has his face plastered on the front of their offices.  Unfortunately, once the celebrity is used in a market, no other firm can use him.  I doubt I can afford Shatner and the rest of the Magnificent Seven have passed away.  Maybe Screech from Saved by the Bell could use a few bucks.  Why couldn't I buy him a nice suit and throw him in front of a camera.  Or maybe the Sham Wow guy.  Anybody have his number?

Feel free to share your thoughts....  You are also cordially invited to visit our earlier post on ridiculous law firm ads.  You might get a kick out of it.    

Editors note: I recently discovered a celebrity in my wife's family.  My wife's-brother's-wife's- brother is a member of the Polish Olympic Handball team and is wildly popular in Poland.   His team won a silver medal in the European Championships and he is currently a member of Poland's national championship handball team.  If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may recall that a significant portion of my client base is Polish.  If you practiced in New York and Derek Jeter offered to let you use him in your ads, would you do it?  Then again.........