Arguably worse than those commercials that are bad and ugly are those that are forgettable. If a commercial airs during the Superbowl and no one remembers it, does it make a sound? (A la, if a tree falls in the forest…)

There were definitely a few forgettable commercials during the Superbowl this year – so forgettable that I either don’t remember seeing them at all, or have only a vague recollection of them after seeing them included on the list of aired spots. Let’s look at a few, and in particular, how they could have been more memorable, and why law firms don’t want to fall into the same quagmire of forgettableness. 


Lincoln’s Steer the Script

Poor Lincoln – they’ve managed to get two commercials on my "forgettable" list.

I really wanted to like this ad, but no matter how many times I watch it, I forget it as soon as it’s over (really – I chose it for this post after watching it again, but when I went to embed the video, I had to watch it yet again to remember what it was about). 

The idea is a good one – illustrating stories from real Lincoln owners in a commercial. But there are some glaring problems with this – first, they mention teaming up with Jimmy Fallon.  I’m sure they did, but this was the first I was hearing about it. And if they’re teaming up with Jimmy Fallon, why isn’t he either in this spot, or at least doing the voiceover for it? I got so caught up in wondering that, I barely paid attention to the commercial. 

And it’s cute – the story is cute, but for some reason, it’s just not memorable. I think they needed to make more of the Lincoln facilitating the couple’s happy ending. The voiceover was just too distracting for me (maybe it wouldn’t have been if it had just been Jimmy Fallon in the first place!). 

E*Trade Baby Game Day

Oh E*Trade baby, how I want to like your commercials…

The E*Trade baby commercials were among my favorites when they first aired – brilliantly done, funny and memorable. But now, they’re feeling a bit tired and overdone, as if the little guy has overstayed his welcome. This commercial does a little bit of a better job than last year’s creepy tailor commercial, but it’s still forgettable in my book. E*Trade, it’s time to come up with something fresher. 

Lincoln Phoenix

And here’s Lincoln’s second forgettable offender…

There are many, many reasons I dislike this commercial. First, I know the car is called a "Phoenix," but everyone knows that a phoenix is special for rising from the ashes. Sure, they show the car coming through a flash of fire in the beginning, but is that really a "rising" from the ashes? How is the car phoenix-like, other than the name? 

And then it’s a hawk? A bird of prey? Simply because it has headlights? What’s so special and/or hawk-like about the headlights that would make me want to buy it?

Then, suddenly, it’s marching to the beat of a different drum. It’s "big ideas with smaller footprints," illustrated by paper cranes made of money – um, what?

And Abe Lincoln is watching it from a beach. 

To me, it’s just a bunch of misplaced metaphors and awkward non-sequiturs. Back to the drawing board with you, Lincoln. You have to know what your product is, who your audience is, and what will make them want to buy it before you can execute an effective ad. 

Redd’s Apple Ale Bar

This *just* misses the mark for me…

For all intents and purposes, this should have been a memorable ad. I mean, a guy gets hit in the head with an apple, for heaven’s sake! But I just did not remember it in the noise of all the other commercials that were aired. 

That’s a key point here – we see SO many messages throughout the day, and because we’re actually looking for them during the Superbowl with its expensive and notoriously memorable commercials, it’s easy for the space to get cluttered. So while a commercial might be funny and even memorable during a regular ad slot, it’s just going to get lost in the shuffle during a time when the best of the best (theoretically) are competing for your attention. 

This was unfortunately one of those ads. I’m also going to go out on a limb and say that they need to rethink the name of their product – although it’s very descriptive of what it is, let’s be honest – what man is going to go into a bar and order a beer with "apple" in the name? It sounds far too much like a martini. If they were targeting this beer at women who want a beer that’s more like a wine cooler, but is still a beer, then they should show that in the commercial. 

AmFam’s Ambassador Dreams

Here’s another commercial that I really wanted to like more…

Again, it’s a sweet idea and they do a good job of illustrating the idea of "dreamers." But I had no idea what they were selling in this ad until the very end, the brand itself is not hugely well-known, so they needed to do a better job of weaving that in, and I’m not sure how the concept of "protecting the dreamers" translates to the type of insurance that they’re selling. 

It’s a miss for me, and a forgettable one at that. 

Lessons for Lawyers

So what can lawyers and law firms learn from this? 

  • Be careful of just adding to the noise out there. As I mentioned, there are SO many messages out there these days, so you don’t want to get lost in the shuffle. To be memorable, you need to be certain of what you’re selling, to whom, and what you want to say. 

That message pretty much sums it up – do your homework and don’t cut corners. When you’re solid in your messaging and product, you won’t be tempted to throw out a whole bunch of cliches, name drop for the sake of name dropping, try to be cutesy with no purpose, or keep pushing out a tired old idea. 

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Photo of Lindsay Griffiths Lindsay Griffiths

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. She is a dynamic, influential international executive and marketing thought leader with a passion for relationship development and authoring impactful content. Griffiths is a driven, strategic leader who implements creative initiatives to achieve the…

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. She is a dynamic, influential international executive and marketing thought leader with a passion for relationship development and authoring impactful content. Griffiths is a driven, strategic leader who implements creative initiatives to achieve the goals of a global professional services network. She manages all major aspects of the Network, including recruitment, member retention, and providing exceptional client service to an international membership base.

In her role as Executive Director, Griffiths manages a mix of international programs, engages a diverse global community, and develops an international membership base. She leads the development and successful implementation of major organizational initiatives, manages interpersonal relationships, and possesses executive presence with audiences of internal and external stakeholders. Griffiths excels at project management, organization, and planning, writes and speaks with influence and authority, and works independently while demonstrating flexibility in thinking, especially in challenging situations. She also adapts to diverse and dynamic environments with constant assessment and recalibration.

JD Supra Readers Choice Top Author 2019

In 2021, the ILN was honored as Global Law Firm Network of the Year by The Lawyer European Awards, and in 2016, 2017, and 2022, they were shortlisted as Global Law Firm Network of the Year. Since 2011, the Network has been listed as a Chambers & Partners Leading Law Firm Network, recently increasing this ranking to be included in the top two percent of law firm networks globally, as well as adding two regional rankings. She was awarded “Thought Leader of the Year” by the Legal Marketing Association’s New York chapter in 2014 for her substantive contributions to the industry and was included in Clio’s list of “34 People in Legal You Should Follow on Twitter.” She was also chosen for the American Bar Association Journal’s inaugural Web 100‘s Best Law Blogs, where judge Ivy Grey said “This blog is outstanding, thoughtful, and useful.” Ms. Griffiths was chosen as a Top Author by JD Supra in their 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards, for the level of engagement and visibility she attained with readers on the topic of marketing & business development. She has been the author of Zen & the Art of Legal Networking since February 2009.