Before the economic downturn in 2008, large law firms were spending $500,000 and up on print advertising – and that's on the media spend alone. Trying hard to creatively cut through the clutter significantly added to that investment.
Today, far fewer law firms – at least the business to business ones – are buying print advertising in legal trades, industry verticals and business publications. This tracks with business-to-business advertising cut-backs in all industries. While I think there is still a place for strategically designed print ads, I don't think we'll ever see the pre-recession levels of spending.
Maybe this is why bad advertising stands out so much today. There isn't the blizzard of competitors' ads to sift through when flipping the pages of American Lawyer, the Wall Street Journal and other desirable publications.
CNN today reported on an ad featuring a stock photo of a firefighter with a headline stating – "I was there. And now Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern is there for me." This is a personal injury firm
According to CNN, this was a stock photo of a man who became a firefighter in 2004. He sold the rights to his image and the law firm bought it, doctored it and used it. Technically, that's how stock image rights work.
Given the understandable hyper-sensitivity by everyone about 9/11, it was an avoidable situation. All the firm had to do was be thoughtful and sensitive in its creative planning, and to tell its ad agency that exploiting 9/11 in any way was off-limits.
Because I don't want to reprint the ad here, here is a link to the CNN story.