There must be something in the water. I keep writing these posts disagreeing with people. Last week I criticized Seth Godin, which for a marketer, is sort of like being a priest and criticizing the Pope. Now I'm criticizing Greenfield/Belser. Next, I guess, I will criticize my mother. Both Bodine and Riskin are Major Dudes in legal marketing. I read both of their blogs, and I think they're both experts.
But, in another life, I was a creative in a pretty hot ad agency for two years, working for the amazing Peter Arnell, so I think I am entitled to an opinion, at least, and to my mind, this ad could be a lot clearer. It has two problems. First, it lacks the one big idea that all really good advertising has.
When you're creating advertising, you always have to remember that you have about one second (in print at least) to capture people's attention, and to get your message across. The reason it's so difficult is that you have to distill what is almost always a very nuanced idea down into a sentence and a picture, which is next to impossible. Figuring this out is where the creativity is -- and the challenge.
And the number-one requirement of all of this is that whatever you come up with has to be clear. Crystal-clear. Absolutely dead obvious to anyone and everyone, instantly. And this ad just isn't.
Okay, the nails represent the new attorneys. Pretty good. But the headline, and the copy, are sort of opaque.
"We asked our six newest attorneys to help you with your real estate development." I don't have a real estate development. Most readers won't. You asked all six of them? At once? And "help"? It doesn't get much vaguer than that. The sentence just doesn't conjure up much of a compelling image.
"(they said they would nail it.)" Wait a minute. They didn't actually nail it. They just "said they would." And what, exactly, does "nail it" mean? When I'm thinking of legal help on a real estate develoment, I think of a lot of carefully applied legal expertise, over time. I don't think of something that can be swiftly, and definitively, "nailed." The concepts don't fit together. The gears grind.
Also, the graphics don't really float my boat. It's a striking image -- light-years ahead of most legal advertising. For example, the image, thankfully, doesn't include a gavel/scales/law books/image of the Supreme Court. But the image of the nails in the block of wood could have been made much, much more interesting -- use of shadows, color, contrast, etc.
I'm currently reading Donny Deutsch's book, Often Wrong, Never In Doubt. Interestingly, that was one of my father's favorite expressions. Deutsch has come up with more than a few great taglines and ideas, and one of them is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. The account was Monster.com, the job-hunting site. And the tagline was "Today's the day."
Deutsch explains: "When someone logs onto Monster, whether they're looking for a waitress job or a bump up to executive, they are making an emotional statement to themselves: "I am not putting anything off. I'm trying to better myself right now. Today's the day."
Second, the ad does not make the product it's selling the star. This is a classic, fatal mistake. Instead of being built around the actual people it's promoting, the ad is built around a clever concept. This happens all the time, even with award-winning consumer ads. Think about how often you see a terrific television commercial, but later, you can't remember what it was for. Same thing here. The nails metaphor is too remote from the idea of new lawyers, and I'll bet the former is remembered while the latter is not.
Simple, powerful ideas that are immediately understood, and that make the product the star. That's what good advertising is all about.