f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

November 17, 2004

jackals, foxes and squirrels

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 4:56 pm

Last Friday, Nov. 12, 2004, Ernie the Attorney spotlighted the Tasteful, and effective, yellow page ads

created for lawyers by Ross Fishman.  That very same day, I received an email from Ross, complimenting

this ethics-haiku weblog, introducing himself, and offering a bit of original “haiku dedicated to badly designed

law firm Yellow Pages advertising.”

 

Normally, the only amateur haiku on this weblog is my own, but Ross has made a good start as a haijin,

so I’ll share his with you, before taking a closer look at the Red Jackals ad campaign:   



Trembling fingers 
turning thin Yellow Pages.
“DIVORCE!” “INJURED?” Woe.

                                                              Ross Fishman

 

Like Ross’ Red Jackal Ads, haiku honors brevity and eschews extra words, leaving it to the reader to draw

upon his or her own experience.  With a little pruning, this poem could be a powerful haiku that depicts a vulnerable psyche seeking help, but battered by the reality of those banner headlines.  [Imagine the reaction, if she or he had encountered my first tiny Yellow Pages ad for divorce mediation — which was run right under the category heading “Martial Law.”]












the unemployed foxes
cry out at the world
of blossoms

 

Issa, translated by D. G. Lanoue

hat rabbit   As Ross has explored this weblog and knows where I’m coming from, I hope he won’t mind me also asking a few

questions relating to his Red Jackals Ad services.  Ernie quotes this excerpt from a Lawyers Weekly USA article, the

second sentence of which is highlighted frequently at Ross’ site:


Since opening his solo family law boutique just over a year ago, Vancouver attorney Lorne MacLean

has accomplished the seemingly impossible: By simply changing the design of his Yellow Pages ad, he

increased his firm’s already significant profits by more than 200 percent.”

This sounds almost too good to be true.  I don’t know if Ernie read the rest of the article, but I did, and Ross probably

did, too.  The article goes on to explain that (emphasis added):


“When MacLean decided to go out on his own last year, he wanted to attract ‘more upscale, more sophisticated,

higher-net-worth individuals’.”

 

“We created a two-page spread for the Yellow Pages . .

 

“MacLean . . . bought a custom-designed, comprehensive advertising campaign for his business – including ‘image’ ads for local-circulation business journals, and glossies such as Vancouver magazine to raise his visibility among upscale readers and potential sources of client referrals. He paid about $20,000 for the whole package.”

This added information makes me wonder what baseline was used for the “200 percent” profit increase of a newly-established law practice, and suggests that a little more than “simply changing the design of his Yellow Pages ad” was involved.

 












heading for where
hunting birds are few…
the fox

 


Issa, translated by D. G. Lanoue

 

In the article Ross is quoted saying “A Yellow Pages rep needs every one of his advertisers to get an equal amount of business. . . .  If one ad were to start getting all the best calls in the ‘Lawyers’ category, the competitors would be furious at their rep.”   That does not jibe with my own experience as a yellow-page advertiser.  How would any one — rep or law firm — know how much business was driven to another firm’s ads?  My rep never brought up the subject with me.

 












the wolf too
peeks out his hole…
autumn dusk


 

Issa, translated by D. G. Lanoue


branding iron  More important, Ernie asks “But, what’s wrong with using a tasteful and effective ad that makes you stand out as a lawyer who is different than the crowd?  Nothing, as far as I can tell.”  I’m not so sure.  This advertising campaign can only lead to an ad war, increasing the marketing expenses of many law firms, especially those seeking the treasured “high-end” client.  The result can only be higher fees for clients, garnered by ads that actually contain less information and instead try to evoke an emotional closeness between lawyer and client.   It raises the issues treated in prior postings here, such as Brand LEX  and Another Lap Around LawFirm Branding.   More revenues for ad agencies and higher profits for some lawyers, without an increase in the quality of legal services.  Such a deal!

 

update (Nov. 22, 2004):  In a Comment that I hope you’ll read in full, Ross Fishman has responded to the issues that

are raised above about the services of his ad agency.  In jackal sequel, Your Editor replies.


by dagosan:





garbage cans overflow —

a fat squirrel ignores

man and river

                                 [Nov 17, 2004] 

 


one-breath pundit










    • Do you think “blog” and “bloviate” come from the same Latin root?  See Volokh, whatis?, and Bartleby.








    • Prof. Bainbridge, in The Role of Bloggers, says “Bloggers are NOT journalists. We don’t claim to be journalists and we never agreed to sign off on the rules journalists supposedly live with.”  His “we” seems to be rather myopic.  “They” missed BloggerCon and even our related posts.

                                                                                                                                                                                  coyote moon small

6 Comments

  1. Would you think less of me if you knew that upon receiving my annual copy of our local phone book, one of the first things I do is to take a razor blade and cleanly slice out all the full page and two page attorney ads. Because those ads get in the way and there are too many to thumb through when trying to find a lawyer’s number.

    Comment by Marie — November 18, 2004 @ 12:21 pm

  2. Would you think less of me if you knew that upon receiving my annual copy of our local phone book, one of the first things I do is to take a razor blade and cleanly slice out all the full page and two page attorney ads. Because those ads get in the way and there are too many to thumb through when trying to find a lawyer’s number.

    Comment by Marie — November 18, 2004 @ 12:21 pm

  3. Are you fishing for compliments, Marie?  I like you approach, but would not trust myself with a razor blade near lawyer ads.  Good old rip-and-tear would work for me.

    Comment by David Giacalone — November 18, 2004 @ 12:47 pm

  4. Are you fishing for compliments, Marie?  I like you approach, but would not trust myself with a razor blade near lawyer ads.  Good old rip-and-tear would work for me.

    Comment by David Giacalone — November 18, 2004 @ 12:47 pm

  5. Interesting comments, thanks, David.
    You made some insightful comments, about branding and Yellow Pages advertising, as well as commenting about the Lawyers Weekly article. Here are answers to some of the questions you pose.

    First, regarding the Yellow Pages haiku — I think you’re right, I wasn’t writing Haiku but actually Senryu, its more satirical, less sentimental, lesser-known cousin.

    Here’s another Yellow Pages Senryu attempt:
    Suited lawyers grin
    Mocking tragedy and pain.
    Directory ads.

    Re the Red Jackal ads and the Lawyers Weekly article, they did a good job with the piece, as they usually do — LW is a well-researched, well-written, high-quality publication. That’s not to say that they got every single fact correct, invariably snippets get edited for space. But the larger point was thoroughly accurate — Lorne had just spun off his divorce practice from his partner because he sought to move up a tier from a practice targeting the blue-collar community to a more affluent market with larger, more sophisticated cases. His Yellow Pages ad had a typical design and a photo of him at work. And he was doing great, business was very good. We created new materials for him and shortly thereafter he told me he was working seven days a week, had hired an associate and a couple of paralegals already, and still could barely keep up with the calls.

    This was all created before Red Jackal existed, when it was under the banner of Ross Fishman Marketing. The $20,000 figure quoted perhaps included the purchase price of the Yellow Pages space; I think we charged him $5000 or so to do the original work. It was in part due to his remarkable success that we found an opportunity to spin off this type of advertising into a new company, YP-Ads.com, now called Red Jackal Ads, to offer these same Yellow Pages ads to other progressive divorce firms in other markets. Yes, his ad was initially designed as a beautiful two-page spread, but he decided that he only had the budget for a one-page ad, so we reformatted it into a single page. And it worked great.

    You also question how a sales rep or law firm would know that an ad is bringing in more than its share of work. Does a law firm know that the calls are going to someone else’s ad in particular? No, obviously not. But firms certainly know when their flow of Yellow Pages cases has declined, and if it’s not making financial sense any longer, they pull out of the directory — and that’s not good for a commissioned sales rep’s business.

    And you comment skeptically that this will inevitably lead to “…higher profits for some lawyers, without an increase in the quality of legal services”? Well, yes, that’s our goal. We’re an ad agency, not Legal Aid; we can’t practice law or control the quality of the legal services of our clients. Our specific goal is to generate significantly higher profits for some lawyers — our clients — just as mega-ad agency Leo Burnett’s goal has long been to generate more sales and higher profits for Pillsbury using the Dough Boy. Hey, it’s the American way.
    Ross

    Comment by Ross Fishman — November 21, 2004 @ 11:26 pm

  6. Interesting comments, thanks, David.
    You made some insightful comments, about branding and Yellow Pages advertising, as well as commenting about the Lawyers Weekly article. Here are answers to some of the questions you pose.

    First, regarding the Yellow Pages haiku — I think you’re right, I wasn’t writing Haiku but actually Senryu, its more satirical, less sentimental, lesser-known cousin.

    Here’s another Yellow Pages Senryu attempt:
    Suited lawyers grin
    Mocking tragedy and pain.
    Directory ads.

    Re the Red Jackal ads and the Lawyers Weekly article, they did a good job with the piece, as they usually do — LW is a well-researched, well-written, high-quality publication. That’s not to say that they got every single fact correct, invariably snippets get edited for space. But the larger point was thoroughly accurate — Lorne had just spun off his divorce practice from his partner because he sought to move up a tier from a practice targeting the blue-collar community to a more affluent market with larger, more sophisticated cases. His Yellow Pages ad had a typical design and a photo of him at work. And he was doing great, business was very good. We created new materials for him and shortly thereafter he told me he was working seven days a week, had hired an associate and a couple of paralegals already, and still could barely keep up with the calls.

    This was all created before Red Jackal existed, when it was under the banner of Ross Fishman Marketing. The $20,000 figure quoted perhaps included the purchase price of the Yellow Pages space; I think we charged him $5000 or so to do the original work. It was in part due to his remarkable success that we found an opportunity to spin off this type of advertising into a new company, YP-Ads.com, now called Red Jackal Ads, to offer these same Yellow Pages ads to other progressive divorce firms in other markets. Yes, his ad was initially designed as a beautiful two-page spread, but he decided that he only had the budget for a one-page ad, so we reformatted it into a single page. And it worked great.

    You also question how a sales rep or law firm would know that an ad is bringing in more than its share of work. Does a law firm know that the calls are going to someone else’s ad in particular? No, obviously not. But firms certainly know when their flow of Yellow Pages cases has declined, and if it’s not making financial sense any longer, they pull out of the directory — and that’s not good for a commissioned sales rep’s business.

    And you comment skeptically that this will inevitably lead to “…higher profits for some lawyers, without an increase in the quality of legal services”? Well, yes, that’s our goal. We’re an ad agency, not Legal Aid; we can’t practice law or control the quality of the legal services of our clients. Our specific goal is to generate significantly higher profits for some lawyers — our clients — just as mega-ad agency Leo Burnett’s goal has long been to generate more sales and higher profits for Pillsbury using the Dough Boy. Hey, it’s the American way.
    Ross

    Comment by Ross Fishman — November 21, 2004 @ 11:26 pm

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