For the last few years, I’ve reviewed the hot topic of Superbowl commercials – as a marketing gal, I LOVE the commercials more than the game (especially when I don’t have a horse in the race, as they say). The Superbowl is when some of advertising’s most creative minds come together and create some sheer brilliance…or sheer disasters.
But what I’ve been noticing lately, is that there have been a number of new, big, flashy ads lately, during some other highly-viewed television events. Some of them are a preview for what will be revealed during the big game, while I think others are taking advantage of a large audience, with cheaper ad rates.
Whatever, the reason, I’m one happy camper. And last night, while watching the Grammys, I saw a new favorite ad. To kick off next week’s discussion of what I see as the good, the bad and the ugly in Superbowl advertising, I thought we’d take a look at Pepsi’s "Halftime Show" ad last night, and what law firms can learn.
First, let’s see the ad itself:
If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that I really enjoy when a brand uses humor to deliver their message, and Pepsi doesn’t fail to disappoint. They take well-known football stars/current commentators (tying in a Superbowl theme) and "flip the script" so that they’re giving a "halftime" show for the artists at the Grammys (who are the ones usually delivering the performance at the Superbowl). And in my mind, what’s not to like?
- They do something that’s never been done before – insert a halftime show into an event that has never had one before. It ties together that evening’s festivities with the largest watched television event of the year – the Superbowl.
- They do an amazing job of "famejacking," which we’ve defined here before as seeing what’s culturally popular and leveraging the excitement and interest that surrounds it. I’m not just talking about the two events, but the actual content of the ad – using Shannon Sharpe to mock the latest Kanye music video with an audience fan and Mike Ditka as a Miley Cyrus wannabe riding in on a football-shaped wrecking ball is both funny AND smart. It makes these guys a bit more relevant to that younger audience.
- There’s something for everyone too – Deion Sanders kicks it off with a Jamie Foxx-esque performance, while Terry Bradshaw ropes in the country music fans. Pop fans will either enjoy the Miley and Kanye references, or enjoy that they’re being poked fun at. We’re only missing hardcore rockers, and the real classical enthusiasts, and hopefully they appreciate the overall tone of the ad.
- Their product placement is solid – there’s audience members drinking the different types of Pepsis (diet, long-necked bottles, regular Pepsi), there are logos coming up on the screen, and they’re mentioned in the songs.
- And did I mention it’s funny?
I’m hoping this is a positive foreshadowing of the kind of creativity we’ll see coming out of the Superbowl ads this year (you may remember I was sorely disappointed last year).
But while this is all well and good for a consumer product like Pepsi, what does that mean for law firms?
- Take yourselves a little less seriously. While firms always want and need to communicate that they take their clients’ work very seriously, they can certainly illustrate that they know how to lighten up – it makes you far more likeable and approachable, which makes clients *want* to hire you. Remember, being good at your job is just what gets you to the table these days. And who wouldn’t remember an ad by a law firm with the managing partner swinging in on a wrecking ball? (Please, can someone make this ad?)
- Fame-jacking. We’ve talked about this before, and we’ll talk about it again – look at what people are talking about, and how you can put your spin on it. In fact, this exact post is a perfect example of it, as are my Superbowl posts. I’m using a culturally popular piece to talk about serious lessons for law firm marketing. Law firms can do the same – talk about lessons for Justin Bieber and his entourage in the wake of his recent arrest. Look at how a company’s FCPA troubles can lead to lessons for other similar companies. Consider the issues you discuss with your friends and colleagues socially, and think about what business angle you can put on them that will showcase your expertise.
- Stay brand-consistent. Pepsi is a fun brand, and this ad reflect that, as well as keeps their logo front and center. Any marketing you do should be the same, in whatever form it takes. If you start a new blog, make sure that the look and feel of the blog is consistent with your law firm (get your marketing folks to help if you’re not sure what that means). If the firm’s values focus on client-service and quality, with a personal touch, you can add stories from your own experience into your articles and blogs. Think about how your firm communicates (in all forms) and reflect that in everything you do. It lets your clients know what they can expect when working with you and your colleagues.
- Know your audience. The only downside I saw to this ad was that although there was something for every music fan, if you’re a die-hard music fan who pays no attention at all to football, the ad is far less funny. And that’s a real possibility when you’re addressing the Grammy audience (though, I think most awards shows are more for those of us who like a little bit of everything – music fans who are serious about one genre or band will be regularly seeing them in concert instead of tuning in to the entire Grammy show). So when you’re writing or speaking (even just one-on-one), keep in mind who your audience is. You don’t want to alienate anyone, and you also don’t want to be so general that you don’t interest them either. It pays to do a little research into who cares about what you’re saying and why.
- Don’t be afraid to be different. There’s a little saying among legal marketers – "Law firms want to be the first to be second." Many firms want to be unique, but they don’t want to be the first ones in the market to try a new technique or tactic (lawyers are trained to be risk-averse, and that’s what makes them so good at their jobs – we marketers know that). But there can be a lot of benefit to taking a risk – as long as it fits in with your overall message. You want to build your reputation, and not end up being "that infamous law firm."
So, tune in to the Superbowl this weekend, and tune into Zen early next week, and we can talk more about advertisements!