When Lance Stevens and Rod Ward III, attorneys with the Jackson law firm Stevens & Ward, sat down with the staff of the Ridgeland-based advertising agency Mad Genius to develop a new ad campaign, the partners knew they wanted something different — something that set Stevens & Ward’s ads apart from those of other personal injury law firms.
However, the attorneys were floored when Mad Genius pitched its idea — an ad campaign using TV lawyers to spoof TV lawyers.
“I heard it and immediately thought, ‘That is just brilliant,’” said Stevens.
Rick Moore, CEO of Mad Genius, said when his team met with Stevens and Ward, the attorneys provided a laundry list of what they wanted and didn’t want their commercials to purvey.
“Here is a firm that has been around for more than 20 years, and they have avoided TV advertising because they didn’t want to do the type of commercials that is common among personal injury law firms,” Moore said.
Some of the items on the firm’s list was stressing that Stevens & Ward wasn’t a settlement law firm — that it would fight for its clients in court and would not make promises it couldn’t keep.
“Their competitors’ ads made litigation look like some kind of fun game show, and they didn’t want that,” Moore said.
The TV ads for the new campaign, built around the theme “Honesty Pays” (HonestyPays.com), have definitely gotten attention.
One 30-second ad starts like many other personal injury law firm ads. A woman, who apparently is standing on a busy street corner, says she was in an accident and called Stevens & Ward, which got her award “fast and easy.” With that, she throws two handfuls of money into the air and lets it rain down on her.
Suddenly, the camera angle changes to reveal that the woman is actually standing in front of a blue screen in a studio with both Stevens and Ward on the set.
Ward says, “We don’t even know this lady.”
“And this money isn’t even real,” Stevens adds.
The two lawyers go on to say while they have helped thousands of clients over the years, they are just not going to “fake it for a commercial.”
“Because we don’t make false promises. Your case is unique and we treat it that way,” Ward says, before adding “honesty pays.”
In another spot tiled “Not Our Office,” the attorneys appear to be speaking from a law office, but then Ward says, “This isn’t even our office.” They step forward to reveal the “office” is only a set, which the crew behind them starts to disassemble.
“If you want a fast, wimpy settlement check, any lawyer can do that,” Stevens says, before adding, “because honesty pays.”
Stevens is adamant that the campaign is not looking to insult or embarrass the firm’s local competitors. Rather, they are attempting to show Stevens & Ward is a different personal injury firm.
“Do I have 100 opened files right now? Probably,” Stevens said. “Do I have 500 or 1,000 open files? No. We are just trying to say that we don’t run people through here like they are cattle.”
The attorneys have gotten an immediate response from the ads. In addition to comments on the street, Stevens said he has been in court when an opposing lawyer has winked at him and said “honesty pays.”
Stevens did admit to one problem the two ads created. He and Ward received comments on how funny the ads are, but too often people would then ask them what Stevens & Ward does.
“We realized we were maybe yucking it up too much,” Stevens said. “I thought the ads made it clear that we are personal injury lawyers, but we obviously needed to do a better job seriously stating who we are and what we do.”
To that end, a third, more information-driven commercial was shot with Stevens and Ward standing in a courtroom and stressing their trial experience.
Still, the firm has plans for more spoofing ads in the future, Stevens said.
“The ads have done everything we were hoping for,” he added. “It has been a lot of fun.”
For more on the law firm of Stevens & Ward and its new campaign, visit www.stevensandward.com.