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Personal Injury Lawyer Schools Marketers on Viral Marketing

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Every marketer wants to go “viral” – the enduring mission to be the next Old Spice, the next Dollar Shave Club, or Oreo.  Oreo in particular, is especially compelling because it segues to disruptive thinking, lawyers and the notion of viral marketing.

Most marketers wouldn’t look to a law firm for a lesson on virility. In fact, by my observation, the legal industry is mostly struggling today with digital marketing arguments the marketing industry had five or more years ago such as:

  • Are blogs social media?
  • When is the best time to tweet?
  • What is content marketing?
  • How do I use data and analytics?

In a session at LegalTech, a major industry trade show for lawyers and technology, Luke Williams a professor at NYU Stern, gave a key note speech on how to provoke disruptive thinking. The thesis?

“Likeminded people tend to network or hang out with likeminded people – it’s a phenomenon that may hinder innovation in any industry, let alone legal.”

It’s fitting then that having attended and written about that session, I might put the concept into action by relating how one lawyer used paid media for earned media’s sake and provided a lesson on Super–Bowl-newsjacking-viral—goodness.

The Super Bowl Lawyer

A personal injury lawyer – named Jamie Casino – based in Georgia produced a commercial to run on a local TV station during the Super Bowl.  Businessweek’s Paul Barrett sums it up:

“The unusually long two-minute television ad ran locally in Casino’s hometown. It’s a cross between a violent revenge flick, a poignant brothers’ buddy story, and an ambulance-chasing manifesto. It totally jumps the shark, and I loved it.”

Here’s the commercial:

And the results?  Slate.  Rolling Stone.  HuffPo. And many others.  As Paul Barrett notes: 

“If Casino’s goal was to get attention—and of course it was—he accomplished that via the ol’ Interweb. For example, herehere, and here. The young woman who answered the phone at Casino Injury Lawyers said the Jaime-r-ator was unavailable for comment. One suspects he’s either got a slew of new slip-and-fall cases and/or several inquiries about directing heavy metal rock videos.”

The story about the video exploded.

Sam Glover, of the Laywerist, who I think in his own way has a story quite similar to that of Darren Rowse and ProBlogger, wrote in his headline, This Lawyer’s Epic Super Bowl Ad Will Blow You Away.

Above the Law, another trendy legal trade blog which is something akin to Gawker for Lawyers, but sometimes uses legalese I often have to look up in a dictionary, called it Jamie Casino’s Two-Minute Super Bowl Law Thingy.  Finally, I’ve got it on good knowledge he’s already getting offers from clients to reality TV shows.

Finally, I’ve got it on good knowledge he’s already getting offers from clients to reality TV shows.

What makes it this so good?

How can a lawyer blow up the digital scene? The same way all the big viral hits do:

  1. Storytelling. Jamie Casio tells a story.
  2. Unexpected. It defies expectations – one definition of newsworthy.
  3. Humor. It’s funny and plays like a preview if the WWE made a movie.
  4. Timing. It’s timely: everyone was looking out for a Super Bowl winner.
  5. Stepping stones. It played to a niche – and grew from there.

All said, I’m still a big believer that a better strategy is still base hits. What say you?

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Photo credit:  Flickr, Jeremy Atkinson, Viral (CC BY 2.0

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4 Responses

  1. UsefulArts

    Frank, this is a great topic to take on — and it may be a boon to Counselor Casino. But his ad makes him the Rebecca Black of lawyers — noteworthy for being a the greatest sophomoric goof. That kind of grinning ridicule elevated her — but its not smart marketing.  The gang at Sokolove brings in hundreds of thousands of online client inquiries, with a mature year over year marketing capability.  That’s marketing, IMHO what Casino did was a stunt. I’m not sure that being the lawyer with the goofiest ad is a long term winning position — but dang, Casino nailed it.  I’d love to hear the inquiries that follow.

  2. UsefulArts  It’s definitely a stunt, no argument there. Personally, I’m wary of stunts.  They can take a lot of work and usually flop. There’s something to be said with a consistent, methodical approach. But I don’t think this made him a laughing stock — even the most serious of legal industry reporters lauded him for it. Could an Am Law 100 firm do it?  I doubt it, but for a solo attorney, I think he’s probably getting more business than he can possibly managed. If the goal of marketing is to develop warm leads, then it’s likely he’s hit his objective.

  3. JamesSimon1

    Frank, I agree that the humor aspect is major. Viral marketing only works if people are going to want to share what they have seen. By my experience people only want to share things that make them laugh, cringe, or gape in awe. A personal injury attorney could do this just as easily as anyone. The internet is a fantastic opportunity-maker.
    https://amatteroflaw.com/personal-injury/

  4. JamesSimon1  Three reactions to your comment, James.  First, another reason people often share content is that if it reflects well on them — it’s the notion (well-founded or not) that sharing good content makes the sharer look smart. Second, things that go viral are usually a slow and stead build, the suddenness is usually a matter of perception. Third, the desire to go viral is typically a poor substitute for a good strategy.  Most law firms would do well to aim for base hits in developing useful and relevant content. The plumber that provides “how to” videos on YouTube is likely to have people watch those videos and hire him or her anyway because they’ve gained confidence and trust.

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