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Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

Contrary to what you might have heard, that’s not me in this video

h/t to Jordan Rushie for bringing this to my attention. I can only dream of having this guy’s acting and musical chops. Some day, perhaps…

I can see how one might confuse me for this guy, if you look at me in my full-bearded days. I have never gotten to sing in a commercial, although we did once have our own TV commercial, for two magical, grossly-unproductive months in 2004:

We got three phone calls as a result of that commercial. Two of them were people wanting to sell us stuff. The other one wanted to sue God or something.


Pinterest is going to change the world. At a quantum level. Or something. I really don’t know.

People Who Use Pinterest  via ilovechartsI don’t get Pinterest. I’m not going to deny that many, many people seem to love it. It seems to primarily appeal to women, so (a) I can accept that perhaps I am just demographically excluded, and (b) I’m not going to overly bemoan something that millions of people seem to enjoy so much.

Its status as the fastest-growing social network is both impressive (12 million unique visitors) and relatively meaningless (6 or 7 years ago, most people had no idea what “social media” was). I signed up for Pinterest in January, and every day I get new followers, mostly because you can register through Facebook, and it will auto-follow your Facebook friends for you–every time one of my Facebook friends signs up, therefore, I get a new follower on Pinterest. It’s like signing up for a free friend-delivery service!

I also created a “board” (where you “pin” photos that you either upload to the site or link to elsewhere on the web) out of a sense of sarcasm. After encountering a series of pictures of Nutella-coated bacon on the aptly-named Geeks are Sexy site, I had an epiphany. As soon as I figured out that Firefox’s cut-and-paste function for some reason does not work well with Pinterest’s code, the “Food porn” board was born. It currently has 182 followers. All it requires is occasional Google image searches of phrases like “key lime pie” and “bacon-covered meat.”

It should be no surprise, therefore, that this website, which only went fully public a little over a year ago, has “experts” in its use in small business marketing. Anyone with the ability to use the word “expert” with no apparent sense of irony can become a “social media expert” in this day and age.

Nutella-covered bacon, via Pinterest, via geeksaresexyOf interest to people who care about such things is the suspicion that Pinterest might actually be a massive, albeit possibly unintentional, mechanism for enabling copyright infringement. At its most basic level, Pinterest is a means to post other peoples’ pictures online with no requirement of correct attribution. Of course, the entire internet is a mechanism for failing to attribute copyrighted material correctly, but Pinterest has made it so much easier. It’s like Flickr for stealing.

Also, as everyone by now knows, the site may have some interesting ways of making money.

I’m not holding my breath that Pinterest is going to change the world. For every revolution aided by social media’s ability to connect people, there are around 2,000 boards that really only help some recent sorority member pick the perfect tiara for her wedding.


My advice to people who use Twitter to send automated spam

Go die in a fucking fire.


It was fun while it lasted, Dr. Pepper

I learned two things today about what it apparently means to be a man:

1. I should try to cut down on my calories.

2. Diet soft drinks will make my weenie shrivel up, or something like that.

Since our society seems to think that we are waging an epic, daily battle to prove our manly qualities to everyone around us, but prohibits us from walking around pantsless with a tape measure for comparison purposes, we have to be creative in how we spew our testosterone.

From Packaging Digest. Fair use appliesEnter Dr. Pepper TEN (note the very MANLY use of all-caps), which, according to Packaging Digest, promises all of the following:

Designed specifically for men who prefer the full-flavor experience of regular Dr Pepper but want a lower-calorie option without the diet imagery, Dr Pepper TEN will feature a distinctly masculine package design, complete with a gunmetal gray color scheme, industrial rivets and bold new font.

“As one of America’s favorite and oldest soft drinks, Dr Pepper has been a beverage innovator for more than 125 years,” says Dave Fleming, director of marketing for Dr Pepper. “Men told us that they wanted a low-calorie option with the full flavor of regular Dr Pepper—and that’s exactly what we’re delivering with Dr Pepper TEN. I’d say these are the 10 hardest-working calories in the beverage business.”

“Diet imagery”? Gunmetal gray with rivets? “The 10 hardest-working calories”? Do the marketing guys at Dr. Pepper actually know any men?

You know what? Screw this. I don’t like football all that much. In 1998-99, I went to Lilith Fair twice. I cry at the end of Serenity, every single time I watch it. I could give two craps what the rest of America thinks of how I rank on some imaginary scale of manliness. I also like Diet Dr. Pepper, but I’m not so sure I want to drink something so closely associated with a beverage that, regardless of how it actually tastes, has been rendered into swill through the power of marketing.


Social Media Credential Fraud

Photo by

Photo by

I learned a new term: social media credential fraud:

This week, the concept of social media credential fraud went mainstream after presidential candidate Newt Gingrich bragged that his 1.3 million Twitter followers represented six times as many followers as all the other candidates combined. Like the social media expert discussed by Shear, Gingrich sought to boost his professional credibility by pointing to his sheer number of Twitter followers.

According to an article in Gawker, however, only about 10 percent of Gingrich’s followers are “real, sentient people.” The remaining million-plus people, the article says, are just a mirage.

Apparently fake Twitter accounts and Twitter accounts that are really just bots can pump up followers lists and promote tweets or blogs. Spam on Twitter is sadly not a remotely rare occasion. On top of that, the ranks of self-proclaimed social media gurus may continue to swell, and lawyers just can’t seem to get enough apoplexy over the topic.

The problem for lawyers in particular is really part of the age-old problem of how to stand out from the crowd. With a possible opportunity to boast thousands of followers or subscribers without the pesky problem of actually appealing to thousands of people, some lawyers here and there are bound to fall prey to the temptation of “credential fraud.” The key word, of course, is “fraud,” something lawyers are always wise to avoid. This could lead to ethical problems we can’t even imagine yet. Best for lawyers to stick to their natural charm to build a following. If you lack charm, become a tax lawyer (zing!).


Bad lawyers! Bad!

This is an old story, but it just caught my eye:

Two lawyers who used a pit bull logo and displayed the phone number 1-800 PIT BULL in their television ad have been disciplined by the Supreme Court for violating Florida Bar advertising rules.

The court overruled the recommendation of the referee in the case and found the ad was not protected by the First Amendment. It approved a public reprimand for the lawyers and ordered them to attend the Bar s Advertising Workshop within the next six months.

The lawyers involved, John Pape and Marc Chandler of Ft. Lauderdale, say they plan to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court an won’t seek a rehearing from the state’s high court.

“I don’t believe that we are going to seek a rehearing. From a practical start it was a unanimous decision; there was no equivocation. I don’t think it would be very fruitful,” Chandler said. “We are going to appeal.”

The court ruled unanimously in the November 17 opinion, holding that the ad violated Bar rules because the image of the pit bull objectively had nothing to do with the type of services being provided by the law firm and improperly described the law firm’s services.

The full decision of the Florida Supreme Court is available online (PDF) should you care to check it out. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, according to the lawyers’ own account of the case. Note that they still use “800-PIT-BULL”as their web address, and they have kept the logo available for viewing:

Many commentators have described out [sic] logo as “ferocious” or ‘fierce.” Please click here if you want to see the logo and determine if it is “ferocious” or ‘fierce [sic].

Photo by harminder dhesi photography on Flickr

Photo by harminder dhesi photography on Flickr

I’ll skip over an analysis of their spelling and punctuation skills. I think I have made my feelings about pit  bulls clear by now. I think they are awesome. Mistreatment and misrepresentation of these wonderful dogs just makes me angry. The ad in question is also a caricature of ridiculous lawyer marketing, which played a role in the court’s decision. I don’t really want to get into the First Amendment argument supporting the ad. These guys have received support from some “free expression” advocates. For me, the guiding principle here is that just because something can be said does not mean it should be said.


Wishful thinking doesn’t build a law practice

Photo by Tiara at

Face it, we're long overdue for a visual lawyer joke (photo by Tiara at

My friend Debra Bruce (a/k/a the Lawyer Coach) has an article at “From Associate to Solo — Don’t Overestimate Your Value.” She discusses how young lawyers tend to overlook many of the expenses, both in money and time, associated with being a young lawyer. I can certainly relate to that. Law practice, as it turns out, is not necessarily the quick road to riches that it may seem to be.

You may dream of being your own boss, running a lean and mean shop with a lot less overhead than your current organization. With the technological advances of the last few years, that is undoubtedly an option. Just don’t underestimate the three crucial responsibilities in the success of any law practice: client development, collection of fees and taking out the trash.

Well, you may not really have to take out the trash, but you will have a lot of administrative duties that hinder your ability to rack up billable hours. Almost all businesses wind up writing off some accounts receivable, and for most lawyers, it takes a lot longer to bring in new clients than they expected.

I don’t want this article to dash your hopes and your belief in yourself. I want it to encourage you to do some realistic assessment and planning so that you don’t end up dashed on the rocks.

It is by now well-known that I have soured somewhat on being my own boss. There has been a steep learning curve in the realm of running a law practice, something law schools tend not to teach. Those” administrative duties” in the above quote certainly do pile up. Every profession has its unique expenses. Law has insurance, continuing legal education, and all sorts of other ethical compliance issues. Marketing is particularly tricky for lawyers, who cannot afford to leave their marketing in the hands of a non-lawyer. New York attorney Eric Turkewitz coined the term “outsourcing marketing = outsourcing ethics,” meaning lawyers have such a convoluted code of ethical requirements surrounding our advertising that we can ill afford to leave it to someone not intimately familiar with those rules (bad things have happened when marketing is left to non-lawyers).

Then there is client development. Clients will not just come to you because they need a lawyer and you are awesome. Client development is complicated, and unless you have an immediate family member with a corner office on K Street, it will not happen overnight. What’s more, the market is saturated with new lawyers. You will need to start getting creative, and that does not automatically mean going high-tech.

I started my firm in 2002 with two other lawyers. They had experience from law school doing criminal defense. I had some immigration experience and had worked for a civil litigation firm, so the plan was for them to build criminal practices and for me to develop civil clients. This was before “blog” was a household word, when most computers still had floppy disk drives. So we did our marketing the old-fashioned way: direct mail. Every day, we would get the jail roster from the Travis County Sheriff, develop a mailing list, and print, sign, stuff, seal, and stamp several hundred letters to prospective clients.

It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Not everyone has regular internet access, even today, relying on the mail. We stopped doing it for two reasons: (1) stuffing 250-300 envelopes per day sucks, and we didn’t want to hire staff just yet; and (2) more and more lawyers were sending letters and the rate of return was plummeting. Anecdotally, I heard that in 2002 about 20-25 lawyers in town were sending letters, but by 2004 there were almost 75. Now, everyone is so internet-focused, perhaps snail mail could have a Renaissance. Many people respond quite well to receiving a personalized piece of mail.


Don’t even get me started on collecting fees. I’d compare it to herding cats, but all a cat can do is scratch you.

Personally, I think it is great whenever a young lawyer wants to go solo. The number of resources to assist a new solo grows every day (resources I wish existed, or that I’d known of, back in the day). It’s scary, but it can also be rewarding. What it definitely is not, is easy.


New bling for the blog

I’m a little embarrassed I used the word “bling,” but no one ever accused me of being a stodgy lawyer type. Anyway, here’s the new decor for the blog:

This was prepared by matt_vd at, a cool site where various services are available for $5. It’s worth a look.

The video is also up at Facebook and Vimeo.


It didn't take long for lawyers to take the fun out of tweeting

As if lawyers don’t have enough stress on their plates, now we have to be mindful of the contents of our tweets, at least according to an attorney in New York: “By answering, in 140 characters or less, the question ‘What are you doing now?’ corporate and professional employees ‘may convey proprietary information, may reveal other privileged or private information and may expose the company to claims of defamation or harassment,’ writes Jones Day partner Steven Bennett in a cover story for the May issue of the New York State Bar Association Journal.”

Admittedly, despite sharing my law firm’s name, my Twitter activity is mostly limited to lame attempts at rhyming couplets and haiku.  I have considered tweeting on more substantive matters, but there always remains a concern over how much is “too much” to say about what I am doing when I’m, say, in court on the Child Protective Services docket.  It’s a good question, and I suppose it was only a matter of time before my profession started dissecting tweeting to determine “best practices.”  Oh well…


The wrong way to advertise

Life’s short. Get a divorce. This is from a billboard in Chicago. The graphic in the linked article is the clincher. I think the matter should be taken a bit more seriously than this.

UPDATE (07/28/2011): The above link doesn’t always seem to work. Another story is here.

"Life's short. Get a divorce."The exhibit pictured on the left depicts the “assets” of attorney Corrie Fettman, one of the partners of the law firm advertising on the billboard.  Nearly full disclosure by Ms. Fettman.  I guess there is no complaint there.

Yes, that really is Corrie Fettman.

UPDATE 2 (07/28/2011): It’s worse than I thought. Or better. I guess it depends on your point of view. Anyway, it’s the first lawyer website I’ve seen with a photo gallery. Don’t click that link at work, please.